Debussy: Musician of France

By Victor I. Seroff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
PAUL-JEAN TOULET -- DEBUSSY'S REVIEWS IN GIL BLAS

THE DebussyS were an ailing couple when they arrived in Bichain. Lily was suffering from an acute kidney attack, and Debussy "looked like a squeezed lemon." They both needed to get away from Paris, from work and worries. During the whole month of August Debussy did not write a single note. Bichain, if not always inspiring, had a particular charm for him. "Here in Bichain the minutes pass, one knows not exactly how. I have a feeling of being at the other end of the world. . . . One cannot deny that the movement of the trees against the river banks forms a counterpoint less poor than our own . . . but the people here are less lovely than the setting. I need not tell you that when L'Angilus gently orders the fields to go to sleep, you never see anyone striking that solemn pose of the lithographs,"1Debussy wrote to his friends in Paris.

In this little village he could forget Pelléas, the Opéra Comique, the public, and "all those so-called artists. Ah! those sinister blackguards!" Debussy scoffed. "One should really hear with what a constipated air they discuss Art! By God, all of life is Art! It is voluptuous emotion (or sometimes religions . . . it all depends). Only 'intelligent people' don't know voluptuousness, except on special occasions." But to start a new work suddenly seemed a dangerous enterprise where he "might fracture his spine." Debussy preferred to do nothing and to enjoy the country as did Lily, who

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1
Allusion to the well-known Jean François Millet's pictures, "L'Angélus" and "Les Glaneuses".

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