DEBUSSY, Claude (1862-1918)

Autograph letter signed “Claude Debussy” to Louis Barthou
Paris, 28 December 1908. 1 p. in-4 in blue ink, blue laid paper

“I know my name is not unknown to you”

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DEBUSSY, Claude (1862-1918)

Autograph letter signed “Claude Debussy” to Louis Barthou
Paris, 28 December 1908. 1 p. in-4 in blue ink, laid blue paper
Few ink stains, tiny brown mark

Debussy uses his notoriety for recommendation in favor of his brother Alfred

“A Monsieur Barthou, Ministre des Travaux Publics,
Monsieur le Ministre,
J’ai l’honneur d’appeler votre bienveillante attention sur le cas de Mr Alfred Debussy, mon frère, sous-inspecteur à la Cie des chemins de fer de l’Ouest.
Il craint que le changement de régime n’ait pour conséquence des mouvements dans le personnel…
et son vœu serait de conserver son poste, afin de bénéficier de l’expérience et des relations acquises.
Je sais que mon nom ne vous est pas inconnu, d’autre part, peut-être voudrez vous vous souvenir d’une rencontre que je n’ai pas oublié – ou vous avez bien voulu me témoigner intérêt précieux.
Dans l’espoir que vous réserverez un favorable accueil à cette requête, je vous prie, Monsieur le Ministre de bien vouloir accepter l’assurance de mon profond respect.
Claude Debussy
M. Claude Debussy, 20 avenue du Bois de Boulogne.”

By composing in 1894 Prelude to the Afternoon of a Wildlife the first milestone of modern music, Debussy immediately placed his work under the seal of the musical avant-garde. He was briefly Wagnerian in 1889, then nonconformist for the rest of his life, rejecting all aesthetic academicism. With La Mer, he renews the symphonic form; with Jeux, he inscribed ballet music in a prophetic modernism; with Pélléas and Mélisandre, French opera emerges from the ruts of the tradition of lyrical drama, while it confers inspired impressionist accents on chamber music, with its string quartet and trio.
Claude Debussy leaves the image of an original and profound creator of a music where the wind of freedom blows. Its impact will be decisive in music history.

On the composer’s death, Alfred Debussy is said to be the guardian of Chouchou, the daughter he had had with Emma Bardac.
Politician and Minister Louis Barthou (1862-1934) also distinguished himself by his love of music and letters. Author of books on Lamartine, Baudelaire, Hugo, he entered the French Academy and, a fierce bibliophile, presided over the society “The Contemporary Book” while personally constituting one of the most beautiful libraries of prints and manuscripts of his time.

Correspondance, Paris, Gallimard (Nrf), 2005, n° 1908-130.