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Debussy's Legacy and the Construction of Reputation$
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Marianne Wheeldon

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190631222

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190631222.001.0001

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The Controversy over the Ode à la France

The Controversy over the Ode à la France

(p.98) 4 The Controversy over the Ode à la France
Debussy's Legacy and the Construction of Reputation

Marianne Wheeldon

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 considers the posthumous premieres of 1928 and their performance in a high-profile concert commemorating the tenth anniversary of the composer’s death. The event sparked fevered debate in the press and occasioned a surge of vitriolic commentary. By performing unpublished works from Debussy’s student years as well as his final incomplete work, the Ode à la France, the concert program and ensuing controversy got to the heart of what was now at stake in the composer’s posthumous reputation: what should be commemorated and who had the authority to decide. The struggle over these two questions led to numerous exchanges in the press and culminated in a lawsuit that pitted the composer’s widow, Emma, against a committee formed of Debussy’s closest friends and colleagues. Whereas the previous chapters highlighted the antagonisms between the pre- and postwar generations, Chapter 4 turns its focus to the fissures within the debussyists themselves.

Keywords:   Claude Debussy, Ode à la France, reputation, legacy, Emma Debussy, Louis Laloy, Marius-François Gaillard, François Villon, Joan of Arc

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