Debussy wrote his solitary Violin Sonata in the closing days of his life, plagued by the distress of the ongoing Great War, financial difficulties and health issues of a terminal cancer. Shortly after its completion in April, the first performance took place on May 5th, 1917 with Debussy himself at the Piano. This was the composer’s last public appearance before his death in 1918.
The Sonata For Violin and Piano was the third and final composition in a cycle intended to consist of six sonatas for various instruments. It has an overall atmosphere of melancholy, while also capturing contradictory characteristics such as joy and silliness, presented in a form closer to a fantasia than a sonata. The three expressive movements (Allegro vivo, Intermede and Finale) are written in a French nationalistic spirit with distinctive influences from Spanish and gypsy music throughout. This ambiguousness and ambivalence in form, sound, and character all attribute to Debussy’s innovative language of ‘musical impressionism’ which has become a favourite of musicians and audiences alike.
The comments at the end of this Urtext edition provide detailed information on the sources and alternative readings, while the preface by François Lesure in German, English and French gives historical and biographical context. Two copies of the Violin solo are included as separate inserts.