Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Debussy - Nuit d'étoiles (Starry Night)

Claude Debussy is most well known for his works written for piano solo. But he wrote around 55 songs for voice and piano throughout his career as well.  His first published work was in fact a song, Nuit d'étoiles (Starry Night), written to the text of a poem by Théodore de Banville, a French poet and writer of the 19th century.

Debussy wrote the song in 1880 when he was 18 years old. The song is a very good representation of Debussy's early works as well as how nature and literature inspired the young composer.  The original poem has 4 stanzas, but Debussy chose to omit the third one.  The piano accompaniment imitates the lyre mentioned in the first stanza while the voice tells the story of lost love.

Théodore de Banville

Starry Night 
Théodore de Banville
Starry night, under your veils,
under your night air and scents,
With a sad sighing lyre,
I dream of dead loves.

The serene melancholy bursts from
deep in my heart,
And I hear the soul of my love
Tremble in the deep woods.

I remember the fountain,
your blue eyes like the sky,
your breath like roses,
and your eyes like the stars.