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Classical Breakdown

18. Debussy's La Mer - Part 1

April 7, 2020

An orchestral staple today, this work about "the sea" wasn't well received at it's premiere. Audiences may have expected a Strauss-esque symphonic poem to bring the sea to life, but Debussy was more interested in the abstract. This is part 1 of our 3 part series on Debussy's enchanting orchestral work, La Mer. In this episode we dive into the first movement "De l'aube à midi sur la mer," (From dawn to noon on the sea) it's origins and sounds. Then we'll listen to a full performance featuring l'orchestra Lamoureux led by Igor Markevitch. 


Show Notes

What music is close to your heart during these times? I'd love to know, send me an email at

Claude Debussy 1862-1918

Claude Debussy

The cover to the score of La Mer

La Mer score cover

Slightly altered from Hokusai's original

My ship 


It's a 20m (66 feet) Portuguese bardge, named Anjo (Angel), built in the early 1900's and was used to haul peat moss. It is also historical as it has the complete original iron hull and rivets. Unfortunately, this snow-covered image is the only picture I could find on my Instagram, from the end of 2011 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

floating keychain

Just for fun, a keychain that is familiar to every houseboat dweller. When you have to walk 66 feet down a very narrow and slanted walkway covered in ice, you want a keychain that will float when dropped!