Claude Debussy, like Hector Berlioz years before, won the Prix de Rome in his youth; and like Berlioz, he did not much care for the experience of living in Rome for the years required of winners of the prize. One good thing did come out of his time there: the two-movement symphonic suite Printemps, which is worth hearing as a signpost of what was to come as Debussy matured into his role as one of the leading exponents in music of French Impressionism. The entire work is one of sensation and feeling and impression. There are no melodies that linger in the ear, and the whole time of the piece, it seems to be leaning toward a certain type of song that never arrives. I often find this sense of direction-without-destination in Debussy, and it’s a large part of why I often find it hard to really respond to his music, as lush and wonderful and evocative as it often is.
Here is Printemps by Claude Debussy.