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Classical Breakdown

19. Debussy's La Mer - Part 2

April 21, 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 2 of our 3 part series on Debussy's enchanting orchestral work, La Mer. In this episode we dive into the second movement "Jeux de Vagues," (Play of the waves) and how the trumpet shines. Then we'll listen to a full performance featuring the orchestra that premiered the work, l'orchestra Lamoureux led by Igor Markevitch.

Show Notes

Billy Gerlach, Principal Trumpet of the National Symphony Orchestra

Billy Gerlach

Gerlach trumpet

An assortment of mutes (Yes, one is the end of a plunger. No, it isn't used!) with Billy Gerlach's C trumpet. Also, a familiar purple bag that used to house Crown Royal whiskey. While not used in Debussy, it is used to soften and dampen the sound. Unlike a mute, it doesn't go inside the bell, but is draped over the bell. 

Learn more about Billy here: