Classical Haiku: Claude Debussy

(Photo: Jonathan Juravich)
(Photo: Jonathan Juravich)

When I stand away
from your dazzling orchestra,
your water sparkles.

Is it just me, or does Claude Debussy’s music make anyone else long to take a beach vacation? And it isn’t just because Debussy composed a lot of water-inspired works, like La Mer, the Sirens movement of his Nocturnes and a couple of his piano preludes. The exotic flair of Debussy’s music tends to take us to places we usually can only dream of.

Take the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, for example. Is there a classical work that more strongly beckons us to stop what we’re doing and laze about? And is there a better place in which to laze about than on a sandy beach at the lip of the sun-warmed azure sea?

What makes Debussy’s music have this effect?

In part, it’s the unusual melodies and harmonies he uses. It’s also, in part, the atmosphere he creates through his stunning orchestrations. Some composers make the orchestra sing, but Debussy makes it shimmer and sparkle, like moonlight flickering on ocean waves.

Today’s Classical Haiku goes to Debussy, whose music takes us to an island paradise — if only in our minds.