Biography

War and Illness

1915

23 March
Debussy's mother Victorine dies.

29 March
Emma Debussy's mother Madame Moÿse dies.

June
Debussy agrees to supervise Bach's works for Durand. He starts composing En blanc et noir.

12 July – 12 October
Stays in the country at Pourville with his family.
Debussy works on En blanc et noir. He announces to his publisher the composition of “Six sonatas for various instruments”, the first of which is despatched at the beginning of August, Sonate pour violoncelle et piano. He works on the Études for piano, composed between 23 July and 29 September.
On his return to Paris, Debussy brings Durand the manuscript for the Sonate en trio (for flute, viola and harp).

24 October
First performance of Berceuse héroïque, conducted by Camille Chevillard.

Debussy with Emma, on a bench in the garden at Avenue du Bois de Boulogne [© Centre Debussy]

December
Composition of Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison, whose popular success would irritate Debussy.

7 December
Debussy undergoes surgery in an attempt to cure the cancer of the rectum diagnosed by the doctors, but the condition cannot be eradicated and he suffers from the pain.

1916

22 January
First performance in the residence of the Princesse de Polignac of En blanc et noir by Walter Rummel and his wife, Thérèse Chaigneau, concert given in aid of the charity L'Aide affectueuse aux musicians.

15 July
Lilly Texier goes to court for payment of the alimony that Debussy has failed to honour for the last six years. He is ordered by the court to pay the 3,600 francs a year he had not paid since 1910. Money and health problems begin to overwhelm him.

11 September - 23 October
Stays at Moulleau, close to Arcachon where Debussy and his family take up residence in the Grand Hôtel. He complains about the number of pianos played by mediocre pianists.

Autumn
Debussy hands his publisher the definitive version of the libretto of La chute de la maison d'Usher.

10 December
First French performance of the Sonate pour flûte, alto et harpe at Durand's, by Albert Manouvrier (flute), Darius Milhaud (viola) and Jeanne Dalliès (chromatic harp).

14 December
First performance by Walter Rummel of four of the Douze Études for the charity Aide affectueuse aux musicians.

21 December
Debussy plays En blanc et en noir with Roger-Ducasse for the charity Le Vêtement du prisonnier de guerre.

1917

April
Debussy completes the revision for Durand of the Six sonates pour violon et piano by J.S.Bach, and his own Sonate pour violon et piano.

24 March
Concert devoted to Debussy, in aid of the charity Le Vêtement du blessé. He accompanies Claire Croiza in Trois Ballades de François Villon, Fêtes galantes (2nd series) and Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison, and Jacques Salmon in the Sonate pour violoncelle et piano.

5 May
First performance by Debussy of the Sonate pour violon et piano with Gaston Poulet, at the Salle Gaveau in aid of the charity Foyer du soldat aveugle.

3 July - 14 October
Stays at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, at Chalet Habas.

11 et 14 September
Debussy gives his last two concerts at Biarritz.

1918

Debussy forced to take to his bed definitively.

19 March
Letter of application from Debussy to become a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, to take Charles-Marie Widor's place.

25 March
Death of Debussy.

29 March
Funeral of Debussy, who is buried in a temporary resting-place at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The following year, his body is transferred to the Cemetery of Passy (Paris 16e)

1919

16 July
Death from diphtheria of Debussy's daughter, Chouchou, not yet 14.