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The Life and Music of Claude Debussy

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 15th January 2020 (Code MU099-201) Wednesdays from
15th January 2020 2:10pm - 4:00pm • (5 classes)
M14 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Iain Matheson BMus (Hons)
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

Debussy is one of the most influential composers of the early 20th century. This course considers a selection of his compositions in the context of the artistic climate of his time, referring to the poets and painters he most admired. Through abundant illustrations in sound and vision, possible correspondences across art forms are explored.

Course Details

Teaching method(s)

lectures; guided listening to recorded musical illustrations; small-group discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • discuss the influences which shaped the creative work of Debussy;
  • recognize aurally music composed by Debussy;
  • pinpoint and describe the features which give rise to this recognition.

Transferable skills

  • Critical listening and thinking
  • Musical analysis
  • Participation in informed discussion
  • Musical appreciation – and enjoyment


Core Readings


a listening guide will be provided.


Bathori, Jane 1998 On the interpretation of the mélodies of Claude Debussy Stuyvesant: Pendragon Press
Code, David J: 2010 Claude Debussy London: Reaktion Books
Fulcher, Jane F (ed.): 2001 Debussy and his world Princeton: Princeton UP
Nichols, Roger 1998: The Life of Debussy Cambridge: CUP
Nichols, Roger: 1992 Debussy Remembered London: Faber and Fabe
Tresize, ed. Simon (ed) 2003 Cambridge Companion to Debussy Cambridge: CUP

Class Handouts

Class handouts: on Debussy’s life and work.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.