"Nocturnes" is an orchestral composition in three movements by the French composer Claude Debussy. It was completed December 15, 1899.


The three movements are:
* I. "Nuages" ("Clouds")
* II. "Fêtes" ("Festivals")
* III. "Sirènes" ("Sirens")

The three movements were inspired by a series of impressionist paintings, also entitled "Nocturnes" by James McNeill WhistlerFact|date=February 2007.

Debussy wrote an "introductory note" to the Nocturnes as follows:

:"The title Nocturnes is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense. Therefore, it is not meant to designate the usual form of the Nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word suggests. 'Nuages' renders the immutable aspect of the sky and the slow, solemn motion of the clouds, fading away in grey tones lightly tinged with white. 'Fêtes' gives us the vibrating, dancing rhythm of the atmosphere with sudden flashes of light. There is also the episode of the procession (a dazzling fantastic vision), which passes through the festive scene and becomes merged in it. But the background remains resistantly the same: the festival with its blending of music and luminous dust participating in the cosmic rhythm. 'Sirènes' depicts the sea and its countless rhythms and presently, amongst the waves silvered by the moonlight, is heard the mysterious song of the Sirens as they laugh and pass on."Fact|date=February 2007

"Nuages" and "Fêtes" were premiered by Camille Chevillard with the Lamoureux Orchestra on 9 December 1900 in Paris. The complete suite was first heard under the same forces on 27 October 1901. The initial performances met with a cool response from critics and the public, but today these are considered some of Debussy's most accessible and popular works, admired for their beautyFact|date=October 2007. The music lasts for about 22 minutes.


It is scored for three flutes, two oboes, english horn, two clarinets, three bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, cymbals, snare drum, two harps, female chorus, and strings.


* "Nuages" has been transcribed for double piano by Maurice Ravel.
* "Fêtes" has been arranged for solo piano by the English pianist Leonard Borwick, and the arrangement has been recorded by Emil Gilels, among others. []
* "Fêtes" has also been transcribed for large symphonic wind ensemble by Merlin Patterson (2007).

External links

* [ Program note]
* [ Page in French, including Debussy's autograph scores]
* [ The paintings by Whistler that inspired Debussy]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nocturnes —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différentes œuvres portant le même titre. Les Nocturnes de Chopin sont des pièces pour piano seul composées entre 1827 et 1846. Les Nocturnes de Claude Debussy sont trois compositions musicales… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • nocturnes — noc·turne || nÉ‘ktÉœrn / nÉ’ktɜːn n. soft or dreamy piano composition; painting of a night scene …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Nocturnes (disambiguation) — Nocturnes are musical compositions inspired by, or evocative of, night. Nocturnes may also refer to: Nocturnes (Chopin), 21 short pieces for piano Nocturnes, Op. 9 (Chopin) Nocturnes, Op. 15 (Chopin) Nocturnes, Op. 27 (Chopin) Nocturnes, Op. 32… …   Wikipedia

  • Nocturnes (book) — Nocturnes   1st edition …   Wikipedia

  • Nocturnes de Debussy — Nocturnes (Debussy) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Nocturnes. Les Nocturnes de Claude Debussy sont trois compositions musicales impressionnistes pour orchestre symphonique. Elles furent composées entre 1897 et 1899. Les trois nocturnes sont… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nocturnes (Debussy) — Nocturnes is an orchestral composition (L 91) in three movements by the French composer Claude Debussy. It was completed on 15 December 1899. Contents 1 Movements 2 Instrumentation 3 Arrangements …   Wikipedia

  • Nocturnes (album) — Nocturnes Studio album by Uh Huh Her Released October 1 …   Wikipedia

  • Nocturnes Rouges — est une bande dessinée d heroic fantasy. Scénario : Emmanuel Nhieu Dessins : Emmanuel Nhieu et Looky Couleurs : Denis Dufourg, Lyse, Florence Torta Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Personnages …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nocturnes pour le roi de Rome — est un film français réalisé par Jean Charles Fitoussi et sorti le 6 janvier 2010. Sommaire 1 Synopsis 2 Distribution 3 Fiche technique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nocturnes (Chopin) — The Chopin nocturnes constitute 21 short pieces for solo piano written by Frédéric Chopin between 1827 and 1846. They are generally considered among the finest short solo works for the instrument and hold an important place in contemporary… …   Wikipedia