Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Diane McMullen




letters, music, debussy, perception, works


This thesis explores the life and works of French composer Claude Debussy through his letters. These letters were compiled by François Lesure and translated by Roger Nichols. Several topics of interest emerged from reading Debussy’s letters, including his relationships with his closest friends throughout his lifetime, his experiences as winner of the Prix de Rome, his struggles, his perception of works written by other composers, his perception of music, and his perception of his own music. Debussy’s letters give the reader unique insights into his life. He relied on his friends for support and they were imperative to his success. This was especially true while he was struggling with his marriages, his finances, his friendships, and most importantly his work. Debussy’s works were influenced by his experiences. He began his novel stylistic writing while he was in Rome and strove to create simple yet artistic music. The arts were seemingly limitless to him, and likewise, his music changed just as he did.