Claude-Achille Debussy (1862-1918) was a French composer. He became a student at the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of ten. A pianist, he enjoyed experimenting with his compositions, which raised eyebrows amongst his tutors and contemporaries. He was influenced by Wagner – an interesting fact, given our narrator’s evident love for ‘Tristan und Isolde’. His relationships with women were often rather dramatic; one lover bore a lodged bullet in her spine for the rest of her life following a failed suicide attempt after he abandoned her.
His ‘Preludes’ are two collections of twelve pieces for a solo pianist; the first was published in 1910, and the second, 1913. A Prelude is a short piece of music which is either created to stand alone, or act as a form of introduction to a longer piece of work – much like a Preface in a book. Debussy’s experimental style is demonstrated in these pieces; in ‘Brouillards', for example, the left hand of the pianist plays only the white keys, and the right hand, mainly black.