Claude Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions. In France, he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1903. A crucial figure in the transition to the modern era in Western music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers.
Claude Debussy was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, France. His father was a salesman and kept a china shop. His mother was a seamstress. Some traumatizing events in his childhood caused him a depression and he never spoke about his early years. Later he could not compose without having his favorite porcelain frog.
Debussy's piano teacher, Mme. Maute, had been a student of Frédéric Chopin. She sent Debussy to the Paris Conservatory, where he studied from 1872-84. Debussy won the Prix de Rome twice--in 1883 and 1884--and the money covered his studies at the Villa de Medici in Rome for the next four years. In Rome he met Franz Liszt and Giuseppe Verdi.
In 1890 he wrote his most famous music collection for piano, "Suite bergamasque", containing "Clair de Lune". His "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" (1892) continued the most productive 20-year period in his life.
In 1908 Debussy married singer Emma Bardac and had a daughter, Claude-Emma. Debussy composed for her the collection of piano pieces "Children's Corner Suite" (1909). His piano masterpiece "Preludes" were composed in 1910-1913. He died on March 25, 1918, in Paris.