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A Piano Recording of Debussy’s “First Arabesque”

By Emily Brown, VI Form

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Debussy is my favorite composer. The music that he writes is original and engaging. Whenever I have the opportunity to choose the next piece that I study on the piano, I aim for his collection. I recorded Debussy’s “First Arabesque” in the fall. The piece is in E major and was written in the late Romantic period, having been composed between 1888 and 1891. Some scholars have considered this piece as a beginning of impressionist music. It has a beautiful overarching melody that is introduced in the beginning and then brought back once again at the end. The piece also contains contrasting tempos and dynamic markings. One distinct part about this piece is how the melodic line builds up slowly and becomes stronger as it plays on. The triplets that consume a large part of the right hand also help to create a smooth and flowing line.

After entering the Paris Conservatory, Debussy was taken out of his poverty-stricken suburb of Paris by a wealthy Russian woman who wanted him to teach her children the piano. This is why various Russian composers have had serious influence on Debussy’s compositional style, especially Mussorgsky.

Although the cello is my main instrument and has been for the last 10 years, I have been studying the piano for the past 12 years. Along with performing at recitals and concerts, I also have played as an accompanist for community choirs. My study of the piano has specifically helped me to study other instruments, like the cello, with more facility. With cello, I have studied in various groups at the New England Conservatory and specialized in baroque music. I played with the NEC Baroque Chamber Orchestra and then the Virtuoso Baroque Soloists, which focused on music by composers like Corelli and Purcell. Along with these orchestras I have played in many music festivals and as an annual soloist at the Vivaldi Festival under conductor Paul Dulude.

Emily Brown is a VI Form day student from Westborough, MA.  She loves Disney World and music, and she dislikes athletics.  


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