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Impressionism as a musical direction


Author  Maria Gabikyan

Music historian


claude-monet-impression-sunrise

Claude Monet. Impression, sunrise, 1873

Impressionist art movement emerged in the 70s of the 19th century in France, and was expressed in painting and literature, theater and music. Musical Impressionism originated in the 80s of the 19th century and found its expression in the first place in the art of Claude Debussy. Use of the term “Impressionism” in music can be considered as provisional. For the impressionist composers the most important in music is the transfer of mood, expression of subtle psychological state. This brings the music of Impressionists to the art of the Symbolist poets. In the future, the term “Impressionism” entered into a wide range of musical areas both in France and abroad. Ipressionistic aspirations of Claude Debussy, M. Ravelli, P. Herzog, P. Dukas, F. Schmidt, R. Duke and other French composers were reflections of a landscape description (“Faun”, “Nocturnes” and “Sea” K. Debussy, “Playing water”, “Daphne and Chloe” by M. Ravelli, and so on.). Being close to nature, having subtle emotions that rise from the sea, forest and sky, according to Debussy, can cause various imagination of the composer and this can wake up a new sound and a new technique, free from the academical. Another area of ​​musical impressionism is the fantasy, which was inspired from ancient mythology and medieval legends and images of exotic Oriental worlds. The aesthetics of impressionism had its impact on all major music genres (opera, piano miniatures, vocal miniatures, symphonic sketches). The art of impressionist composers enriched the musical palette of expression. It is primarily concerned with harmony. The music has increased the importance of each voice, the tone of each chord. A kind of freshness was the use of song and dance genre, taken from the eastern countries, from Spain and from the new African-American jazz forms. At the beginning of the 20th century French impressionist music began to spread outside France, acquiring a typical country-specific ethnic lines. On the eve of the First World War, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev and Bella Bartok founded “antiimpressionistic direction”, and in spite of such a short life Impressionism made a revolution in the music world.

Translated from armenian.

Claude Debussy “Moonlight”



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