Debussy – Clair de Lune

FP340 Claude Debussy Clair de Lune Two Flutes and Piano Grade 7 4′ 30″

Debussy attended the Paris Conservatoire. He then studied composition with Ernest Guiraud and travelled through Europe. Shortly after his return to Paris in 1888 he composed his Suite Bergamasque, though it was not published until 1905 after significant revision.

It is loosely modelled upon the baroque suite with Clair de Lune, the third of four movements, taking the place of the slow dance, which was usually a saraband. Debussy was interested in symbolist poetry; in Paul Verlaine’s Fêtes Galantes, well known by Debussy, there are references to moonlight. Rich harmonies, warm sonorities, a smoothly undulating melody and slight rhythmic ambiguity, whereby beats are often subdivided into duplets alongside the usual triplets, are notable elements. The prevailing mood is calm, though a “breeze” does stir up a little in the middle.

Clair de Lune is one of the most well loved pieces ever written, having been orchestrated and arranged many times over the years. The whole of Suite Bergamasque is published by FlutePlay this being just one of Debussy’s works that Peter Lynch has arranged for flute and piano. Others include Deux Arabesques; Danse Bohémienne/La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin (Lengnick); The Little Shepherd, Rêverie and Pour invoquer Pan.. (PEM), this last piece being on the Grade VI syllabus.

For the flute players, two essential aspects of technique are breathing and tone, especially of third octave notes. Top Abs played pp are required by the first flute; the alternative fingering (in which the RH 3rd and 4th fingers are also depressed) will make life a little easier.

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