A Washington, DC Debussy Premiere
This Saturday the National Philharmonic will be premiering Debussy’s Martyrdom of St. Sebastian as part of a festival in the Washington, DC area celebrating the composer’s 150th birthday. The Martyrdom is Debussy’s only large-scale choral work. It tells the story of St. Sebastian, a Roman soldier whose conversion to Christianity inspired him to save other Christians from death, and ultimately led the Emperor Diocletian to order his execution.
Influenced by Symbolist poets and Impressionist painters, Debussy’s compositions took on a new form of originality through nontraditional tonal structures. His technique achieved a new voice that evoked profound images and moods in the lush texture of the music. In the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, for example, listeners are made acutely aware of the anguish sung by the chorus:
Hélas! Ah! Pleurez, Ô femmes de Syrie, criez: Hélas! Ma Seigneurie! Toutes le fleurs se sont flétries. Criez! Pleurez!
“Alas! Ah! Weep ye, oh women of Syria, cry out: Alas! Beloved homeland! All the flowers are withered. Cry out! Weep ye!”
It is a work of profound beauty and mystery- give this orchestral excerpt a listen. See you there!
Pre-concert lecture: 6:45 pm in the music hall
Concert: 8 pm, Music Center at Strathmore
Grosvenor- Strathmore Metro stop on the Red line.