The Centre de Documentation Claude Debussy came into being in 1972 on the initiative of musicologist François Lesure, in order to promote Debussy studies and provide specialist researchers with the resources for researching, and sharing information about, the composer and his work.

Initially set up at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the composer's birthplace, the Centre was run until 1976 by Margaret G. Cobb, who set up the core collections. Roy Howat took over, followed by Anick Devriès, prior to Myriam Chimènes, who was curator from 1984 to 1988. The Centre de documentation Claude Debussy then moved a number of times before finding a permanent home in the Music Department of the French National Library, where it is today.

To encourage and promote research on Debussy in France and abroad, the Centre de documentation Claude Debussy acquires, keeps and makes available to the public, the most comprehensive documentation it can, about the composer and his period.

Among its aims are to centralise:

  • photographic reproductions of all Debussy's manuscripts (sketches, definitive manuscripts, corrected proofs and correspondence) dispersed as they are in public libraries and private collections both in France and abroad;
  • Debussy scores in their French or foreign editions;
  • books and periodicals relating to the musician and his time (monographs, mementos, souvenirs, correspondence, special issues, press articles, articles by learned societies and academic research papers or theses);
  • concert programmes, posters, photographs and other iconographic materials, available subject to conditions for publication, audiovisual projects and temporary exhibitions;
  • recordings of Debussy's works (compact discs, 33rpm and 78rpm records, tapes, unpublished recordings);
  • specialist archives (André Schaeffner, Oswald d’Estrade Guerra, Jean Touzelet, etc.)