Video: Whistler, Debussy, and the Lecture that Changed Art

Explore Paris in the 1880s and 1890s through dramatic readings of James McNeill Whistler’s “Ten O’Clock” lecture and piano music by Claude Debussy, who was known as “the Whistler of music.” Pianist Brian Ganz performs excerpts from Debussy's Preludes (Books 1 and 2), Images (Books 1 and 2), and Estampes. Complementing these are works by Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, jazz pianist Bill Evans, and avant-garde composer George Crumb, all of whom were indebted to Debussy. Between musical selections, actor Michael Tolaydo reads from Debussy’s letters and Whistler’s influential “Ten O’Clock” lecture, which described his then-radical views on the purpose of art. These are read alongside poems by Stephane Mallarmé and other symbolist poets whose writings influenced both Whistler and Debussy. This performance took place on Saturday, September 28, 2019.

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