Debussy at the Villa

Mar 16, 2015

20120821_claude-debussy_33“When you don’t have any money to go on holiday, you must make do by using your imagination,” wrote Achille-Claude Debussy (1862-1918) who was considered the founder of musical impressionism.¹

Debussy: “I love music passionately. And because I love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it.”²

By the age of eleven, Debussy’s prodigious talent at the piano enabled him to attend the Paris Conservatory. Winning the Prix de Rome at the age of 22, financed two years of musical study in the capital, and by the early 1900s, Debussy had “established himself as the leading figure of French music.”

Debussy: “Music is the expression of the movement of the waters, the play of curves described by changing breezes.”




On Sunday, March 22nd, the Pasadena Conservatory of Music presents “Mansions & Music II: Prints and Impressions” with Esther Yune on piano.

The afternoon event will be held at the hillside Mediterranean villa of Betty Sargent and John Swain of Pasadena. The program will begin with Debussy’s triptych Estampes written in 1903, which consists of Pagodes, La soire dans Grenade, and Jardins sous la pluie. Other “impressionistic masterpieces” included in the program are Feux d’artifice (Fireworks) from Préludes, Book 2 (1912-1913) and Maurice Ravel‘s Jeux d’eau. Ravel, another Impressionist music master, spoke about the piece’s origins:

Jeux d’eau, appearing in 1901, is at the origin of the pianistic novelties which one would notice in my work. This piece, inspired by the noise of water and by the musical sounds which make one hear the sprays water, the cascades, and the brooks, is based on two motives in the manner of the movement of a sonata—without, however, subjecting itself to the classical tonal plan.³


Maurice Ravel; painting by Ludwig Nauer, 1930

Maurice Ravel; painting by Ludwig Nauer, 1930


“Mansions & Music II: Prints and Impressions”
Sunday, March 22nd, 4 p.m.
Home of Betty Sargent and John Swain in Pasadena
Address provided upon purchase of ticket
Cost: $75, purchase here
For more info, visit
Or call 1.626.683.3355


Debussy: “Music is the silence between the notes.”






² Debussy quotes sourced from




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