Rêverie (Debussy)

Debussy didn’t like this piece, but students and audiences definitely will!

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Claude Debussy’s piano music burst upon the scene rather suddenly in 1890: Deux Arabesques, Petit Suite, Suite Bergamasque and Rêverie all found themselves published that year.

Of these pieces, Debussy was least satisfied with Rêverie. It was printed from an old manuscript that had been lying about for some time. “I greatly regret your decision to publish Rêverie,” Debussy wrote to the publisher. “I wrote it in a hurry years ago and purely for commercial purposes. It is a work of no significance and, frankly, I consider it absolutely no good.”

Debussy’s low opinion of Rêverie did not prevent it from being among the very best known of his piano works, and ironically, one of the most commercially successful. The original manuscript has been missing for quite some time, but it is believed that Rêverie was composed sometime between 1880 and 1884. This means that it is the earliest known instance of Debussy composing in the impressionistic harmonic idiom that would come to be identified with him.

This piece may have helped to shape the harmonic approach of jazz in general, as it was well known by virtually all jazz pianists.

This arrangement and abridgement keeps most of the wandering, daydream-like feel of the original. The 3 against 4 triplet patterns have been adjusted.

Key: F major

Mood: dreamy

Pedagogy: impressionistic harmonies, pedal, rubato, changing hand positions, triplets


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