La Fille aux cheveux de lin (Preludes, Book I, 1909 – 1910)

(The Girl with the Flaxen Hair)

I haven’t had a chance to write this piece up yet, but feel free to start the discussion in the comments!

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3 comments on “La Fille aux cheveux de lin (Preludes, Book I, 1909 – 1910)

  1. marie says:

    Dear sir,
    could you tell me how the pedal markings are done for Debusssy Prelude no8 from book 1La fille aux cheveux de lin.
    thanks.

  2. George D. Greenberg says:

    After 6 years of intense study in my teens I return to the piano at 54 on a nice 2003 5 ft 7 in Petroff, studying classical and jazz for several months now. I played this piece in my youth. What is interesting is that with maturity I can marvel at the depths of emotion and joyuous wonder he must have felt at the exquisite mystery and beauty of woman.

    I also have discovered that the pedaling is much more complicated than I realized or was taught. Different levels of depression of the pedal create different effects This is very useful as he was very precise about holding over certain notes and sounds from one note or measure to the next. I apologize as my learning curve is far behind many advanced players and thank you for your patience.

    Outside of specific half or whole notes played and held beneath quarter and eighth notes, his markings suggest to me that in certain portions, he only wants certain tones or certain groups of tones extended, and therefore a partially depressed pedal, and in others he want the full effect of most or all tones held through. This is highly subtle.

    I also struggle to not get carried away with emotion when practicing or playing this piece. Clearly the notes must be played and a tempo set and an underlying rhythm followed and it must be clear enough and loud enough to be heard and understood by the listener, not just the pianist. The almost unbearable beauty of the piece makes it difficult to play with clarity and to not dwell, pause and reflect as one goes along. But that is not musical. Thus the tension between emotion and clarity, and between reflection and musicality.

    I am yearning for input from others. Thank you for reading. George D. Greenberg

  3. brian says:

    That is a good comment regarding this piece. I too get immersed into the emotion and reflection of this piece and unknowingly will linger on in certain sections as I play out the scene in my head , but I also figure that the listener doesnt get the gist of it and it just ends up being a nice -sounding abstraction of musical sound to them.
    I perfectly am intimate with every measure of this piece and know exactly the scene or what is the thought behind that measure but the art is in the my interpretation that I can successfully impress upon the listener.

    My favorite part of the piece is the climax(?) measures near the end where there are stretched chords left and right hand ,(right before the final reprisal) I realize a lot of people don’t understand this part.
    It is a dreamy sequence and I m sure many ways to interpret it, but my thought is that it is a deeper reflection of the first person (who is gazing at a little girl…or lovely woman) of something that goes beyond just what he is seeing, but how the first person is trying to gather his thoughts about society or even the cosmos at that specific time. It is a deep thought but I cant really articulate what I am trying to say here. But that is how I feel about that part of the piece.

    all in all, a one of a kind piece both in a pastoral and innocent sense, and at a deeper level as well.

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