Debussy: Musician of France

By Victor I. Seroff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
CLAUDE DEBUSSY, MUSICIEN FRANCAIS

"THE MOST TERRIBLE things have happened, the gravity of which my precious sick one does not suspect (I hope). . . ." Madame Claude Debussy wrote Dr. Vall­ry-Radot on January 31, 1916. "He is getting better, but it is going to be a long, very long time for him. Above all, when you come (because you are coming, aren't you?) don't show your anxiety for his state or for what he might say to you. Please forgive me for saying all these incoherent things -- I have been living in such anguish during these past two months! I was promised they would help him with his pain. I don't dare to write more, everything I say worries me. He is better and slowly regains his strength. I make him sleep a little in the afternoon, but after four o'clock you could come to see him -- it will make him so happy! As soon as he can start working a little time will be less long for him, but first he must not suffer so. . . ."

Vall­ry-Radot found Debussy had lost weight, he looked tired, his eyes were sad. He spoke little. Radot had a feeling that death was near. Debussy had to remain in bed. He was getting radium treatments and injections of morphine. He felt like a living corpse. He wished he could work. He thought again of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." "I suffer like the damned," he said, and the only work he could do was to read the proofs of his Études.

"These drugs are shrouded in mystery and I am asked to be patient . . . Lord! How can I? After sixty days of various tortures." In February and in March he was again told to have patience. In April there was some talk about organizing a concert tour in the

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