Before you read, I must tell you - this is the period of music that speaks to me the most. Many musicians can make the same claim, as Impressionism ushered in a whole new genre of Classical music focused on feeling, color, and harmonic expression.
As with most revolutions in music (and if you've read the previous articles, you are aware as well), the Impressionist Period was not solely focused on music - changes in visual arts, architecture, and dance were evident as well. The painting featured at the beginning of this article is Claude Monet's "Tulips in Holland", which pairs perfectly with Claude Debussy's "Nocturnes" (Debussy pictured above). Yes, Claude was a popular French name of the time... and obviously effective, too!
Have you ever wanted to describe something in nature with words, such as with poetry? How about with a piece of music? This was a HUGE focus for many composers - describing nature using musical instruments. Take for example something as beautiful and timeless as clouds in the sky - how would you imagine clouds sounding?
Take a listen to Debussy's Nocturnes: Nuages (which translates to "clouds") and imagine fluffy, pure white clouds drifting by... how does Debussy capture that essence?
A composer by the name of Erik Satie (full name Alfred Eric Leslie Satie) was also a prominent French Impressionist composer, focusing mostly on piano music. Among his most well known works are the Gymnopedies - check out No.1!
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what makes music from the Impressionist Period so special! Keep on the lookout for the final installment - Modern/20th Century!