Karstein Djupdal >> Debussy >> Introduction


One of the more interesting things that has happened in the field of performance of classical music the last decades, has been the movement of "authenticity" or "historically informed performances". Starting in the 1960's with "early music", it has moved up to the baroque and classical periods, and it is now moving further up in history. Undoubtly it has enhanced our understanding of older music, and brought new energy and life to the classical repertoir. My thesis lies in this tradition, making use of the same methods and aim to get a better understanding of the music of Debussy through what it is possible to know on the basis of research.

At the same time I am aware of the danger of making music into an exact science. The authenticity movement can become a religious belief in "the right way" to do things, and art should not be like that; it should be playful and creative.

Anyway, I think it is never possible to know exactly how music was performed and perceived in another era, and I also think that our perception of music inevitably changes over time. One interesting outcome of my research was just how much the perception of music must have changed since the time of Debussy, since I was able to compare written accounts with the recordings of Debussy playing. When he says something about how a piece should be performed, and then does something very different when he plays it himself, it could be an indication that our perception of for example rubato has changed a lot the last hundred years.

My intention with this thesis is therefore not to limit the modern performer to an interpretation that is exactly as Debussy´s own, but rather open up for some new and maybe interesting perspectives on how to play this music.

(Debussy at the piano)