Debussy: Musician of France

By Victor I. Seroff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
BOHEMIAN PERIOD -- GABY

THE SIX YEARS following Debussy's return from Rome have been called his Bohemian period. In fact it was so Bohemian that during the first two years no one knew where or how he lived, let alone the details of his personal life. Except for a few musicians, fellow students, no one spoke of him, and among the literati and the painters with whom he preferred to visit not much notice was taken of him. His official address, 27 rue de Berlin (today rue de Liége), was that of his parents, but it had become even less of a home to him after a few years of being away from it.

Debussy never spoke of his brothers and sister who must have lived there, nor did any of his friends mention them in their recollections. Yet this was the only period in his life (short as it was) when Debussy was forced by circumstance to live in close quarters with his family. He did not like it. "The atmosphere" was far from congenial and perhaps he was self-conscious about it, for he avoided having his friends visit him there. His mother had not changed, except that she grew a bit heavier and even more brusque in her manner. His father held on to the same job and otherwise remained a great enthusiast of Le Pré aux clercs and La Fille du régiment as played at the Opéra Comique -- "masterpieces," in his opinion. The couple were not happy about their son. They had to give up their ambitions and dreams, and to console themselves with their popote and sedate existence. Debussy, on the other hand, felt that he had no common interests with them, he knew that his ideas were above their heads, and he frankly spoke of his father as a "presumptuous

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