Debussy’s elusive footpath

Where do Debussy’s “Footprints in the snow” lead? This is the question I try to answer in this blog. Since the title of this prelude provides no clue, we must look for the answer in the music itself. Is the music leading in any particular direction, or is it mostly circling in one place? “Footprints” is at the center of the 12-prelude cycle, so a circular journey does make sense, but so does an understanding of “Footprints” as a transition from one section of the Preludes to the next.

Debussy’s unique uncertainty

The fascinating points of intersection and divergence between Debussy and Albéniz are strongly present in two pieces I discuss in this blog: La sérénade interrompue and El Albaicín. The difference I find most glaring is that while Debussy seems to observe the music happen, Albéniz experiences it. This is most poignant in the ending, where Albéniz’s spontaneousness is in stark contrast with Debussy’s calculatedness. While El Albaicín fades away slowly before taking the audience by surprise with a final outburst, La sérénade disappears before we notice it disappearing, leaving the audience surprised by the silence that follows the last figure.

The Albéniz-Debussy connection

In the previous entry, I discussed the fascinating differences and similarities between Schubert’s single Diabelli variation and Beethoven’s 33 variations on Diabelli’s theme. Here I discuss another intriguing relationship between two contemporaneous works, Albéniz’s El Albaicin from the third volume of Iberia, and Debussy’s La serenade interrompue from his first volume of Preludes.  Debussy composed his first volume of Preludes […]