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Debussy's Paris: Piano Portraits of the Belle Époque

by Catherine Kautsky Rowman and Littlefield
Pub Date:
Pbk 254 pages
AU$54.99 NZ$56.51
Product Status: Title is Print on Demand - May take 4 weeks
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Claude Debussy’s exquisite piano works have captivated generations with their dreamlike atmosphere and mysterious soundscapes. Written in Paris at the height of the Belle Époque, the music creates a soundtrack for Parisians’ enjoyment of such delights as clowns, mermaids, eccentric dances, and the dark tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Debussy’s Paris: Piano Portraits of the Belle Époque explores how key works reflect not only the most appealing and innocent aspects of Paris but also more disquieting attitudes of the time such as racism, colonial domination, and nationalistic hostility. Debussy left no avenue unexplored, and his piano works present a sweeping overview of the passions, vices, and obsessions of the era.   


Pianist Catherine Kautsky reveals little-known elements of Parisian culture and weaves the music, the man, the city, and the era into an indissoluble whole. Her portrait will delight anyone who has ever been entranced by Debussy’s music or the city that inspired it.

Ch. 1: Pierrot Conquers Paris
Ch. 2. Poets, Clowns, and Circus Daredevils
Ch. 3. Dance Steps out of Line
Ch. 4. The Cakewalk Wars
Ch. 5. A Taste for the Orient
Ch. 6. Asia on a Pedestal
Ch. 7 Child's Play and Make Believe
Ch. 8. Fairies and Fairy Tales
Ch. 9. Crossovers on Land and at Sea
Ch. 10. The Floating World
Ch. 11. Fair-haired Maidens
Ch. 12. Edgar Allan Poe's “Imp of the Perversea
Ch. 13 The Sounds of Nationalism

Afterword: In Conversation with Baudelaire and Proust

With her exceptional gift for bringing to vivid life the context of this great composer's work, Ms. Kautsky succeeds brilliantly in offering new and arresting perspectives regarding Debussy, Paris, and the extraordinary world that defined them.
Catherine Kautsky is chair of keyboard at Lawrence University and has been lauded by the New York Times as “a pianist who can play Mozart and Schubert as though their sentiments and habits of speech coincided exactly with hers.a Visit href=""> to enjoy Kautsky's performance of many of Debussy's works, as well as additional artworks, poems, and primary source materials from this book.