Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie

Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie: How my Project Began

Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie. For over 20 years my wife, Sharon,  has been trying to get me to learn this esoteric work for the piano by Claude Debussy. Though it’s beautiful, haunting, and exotic; at times, I can be contrary and stubborn: I didn’t want to take the time required to master it. Then the following happened: (1) My oldest son insisted that I should record one hour of Claude Debussy to be available on our ( being Sharon and myself) website. He is building it. (2) My teacher, Mischa Kottler, said on his last visit to us, I should play a concert of French music, especially Debussy in order to “show people what I can do.” (3) My wife is still insisting that I learn Debussy’s La Cathedrale engloutie. And, I must admit, now that I am working on it, has been the thrill of my life



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Debussy may have also been inspired by Monet’s paintings on the Rouen Cathedral. Monet painted a multitude of paintings of this cathedral at different times of the day.



The cathedral of Ys rests on the mythical city-island of Ys, located by Brittany in France (also spelled Keris).  It daily rises from the ocean. Debussy’s music conveys the sounds that issue forth from the cathedral including bells chiming, priests chanting and its full-sized organ. The opening suggests church bells ringing in the distance and the clerics singing medieval chant. The middle section imitates the action of waves crashing on the cathedral. The story goes that the island was sunk by the Devil due to the rampant impiety on the island.  For this expression in music, Debussy includes a featured place for the interval of the augmented fourth. This interval was called by the church the diabolis in music (the devil in music).


Now, I hope you can see why I’m looking forward to recording one hour of Debussy’s music; and especially La Catherale engloutie. The recording  session is scheduled for November 11 at a performing arts center in Sarasota.  Of course, afterwards, there are still a number of necessary steps. I keep telling myself to be patient by reciting the motto: Rome wasn’t built in a day. 



One Musical Hoagy Please?




One Musical Hoagy Please?  This blog takes a look at the timing of American musical trends. It uses the songwriter, Hoagy Carmichael, to illustrate the point. In the past, dominant melody and then dominant rhythm have taken turns in ten year periods. Individual writers here and there have written melodic works in a rhythmic era and vice versa; but there has been a ten year rhythmic cycle in public taste.

Hoagy Carmichael’s Epoch Making Song-   Stardust
One Musical Hoagy Please?  Here’s the story.An effective way to gain some insight into these cycles involves the classic song, Stardust.  It was written in the late 1920’s by Hoagy Carmichael. Hoagy made a fortune with it because of the Great Depression which began in October of 1929.

Earlier, January of 1929, Joe walks downtown, he’s upbeat because “everything’s coming up roses.” He has plenty of money, a good looking dame and one of those new- fangled automobiles. He has a bounce in his gait and moves to the rhythm of the quick step song, “Five-Foot-Two”. The last thing he wants to hear is a long- winded beautiful melody. What a damper melody is!Continue reading