Claude Debussy’s Préludes are a collection of 24 piano pieces composed between December 1909 and April 1913. The title is a nod to the Préludes composed by Frédéric Chopin’s, who not only gave freedom to the musical form, but also ennobled it by regarding the prelude as a whole, standalone work worthy of performance in its own right. Greatly inspired by Chopin’s work, Debussy rapidly composed two sets of 12 preludes, Book I and Book II, for a total of 24 pieces. He wrote Book I in just a few months, even managing to write some of them in a day. He composed each piece to programmatically depict a unique idea; such as the sails of a vessel adrift fickle waters, or a mighty sunken cathedral arising from the depths in glory to sink back below the surface. Ingeniously, he did not put the titles of the preludes atop the score of each new work but the very end after the final bar, implying that the title shouldn’t impose upon the listener’s imagination. Debussy sought to free the imagination of his audience and, maybe, even his own. As Debussy himself said of his Estampes “If one cannot afford to travel, one substitutes the imagination.”

Browse recordings of Preludes, Book I

Enjoy Claude Debussy’s Preludes, Book I on is the best online platform for live streaming Debussy’s Book I of his Préludes, on replay or VOD, offering you a virtual ticket to the most exciting productions with the world’s best pianists and musicians captured in HD video. On, you can find some of the best interpretations of Claude Debussy’s works, including Book I of his Préludes for piano, played by some artists such as Hélène Grimaud and Emil Gilels. Not only his piano music but also his orchestral repertoire, like Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Suite bergamasque, brought to life by the globe’s leading orchestras!

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Claude Debussy’s Préludes, Book I and Book II were composed in the footsteps of Chopin, who in turn was inspired by Bach’s 24 preludes from The Well-Tempered Clavier. As Chopin before him, Debussy opted to compose his Préludes with exceptional freedom and individuality. Despite the programmatic nature of his preludes, Debussy didn’t wish to be known as a “program composer.” He even placed the titles of each prelude at the end of their score, in order not to influence the imagination of his audience. So let your imagination run wild on the notes of Debussy’s Préludes, Book I and Book II! Perhaps you will glimpse the “Sails” of a ship caught in the wind (Voiles) or find yourself in the depths of the sea,  gazing upon the magical glimmers on the polychrome glass window of a “Sunken  Cathedral” (La cathédrale engloutie). In fact, the element of water has great importance for Debussy. He frequently evokes the sea (The Sea), as musicologist Jacques Viret explains, with a “subtle, light, elusive, flexible, floating aesthetic.” Come and discover the wonders of Debussy’s complete collection of 24 Préludes on, the musical destination of your dreams is at your fingertips!