Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Claude Debussy

The two Arabesques are early works, predating the composer's watershed composition for orchestra, L'après midi d'un faune. While some have dismissed them as lightweight Debussy, the First here became extremely popular in the early twentieth century and is still widely known and performed today. Part of its continued popularity comes from its exposure as the title music, via an electronic keyboard rendition, on the PBS astronomy program Star Gazer, hosted by Jack Horkheimer. Oddly, there is little about the Arabesque No. 1 that can be associated with anything in the astral realm. Neither is there is much in its music that can be related to Debussy's trademark Impressionist style, something he would later develop. The word arabesque is associated with complexity in decoration and embroidery or with a dancer's position in ballet. Here, the music might well relate to the former definition, for its long-breathed main theme consists of a winding road of notes first in descent, then rising with a sense of great expectation of some ecstatic joy. The middle section is playful and maintains the happy mood, even through several rather muscular passages. The piece closes after a return of the lovely main theme. This Arabesque has a duration of about four minutes.