La fille aux cheveux de lin (“The Girl with the Flaxen Hair”) is the eighth piece in Book I of Claude Debussy’s solo piano Préludes, written around 1910. The title was inspired by an 1852 poem by Leconte de Lisle.
A single, meandering line pulls us into the ephemeral, dreamlike world this music inhabits. Listen to the way the harmony, built largely on the floating, static pentatonic scale, shifts around this melody in unexpected ways.
Listening to this piece is like entering the world of a portrait by one of the great Impressionist painters. We become captivated with the play of light and shadow, the enigmatic expression on the subject’s face, the blend of innocence, sensuality, and quiet lament. The longer we give the art our attention, the more we see.
- Debussy: Préludes, Krystian Zimerman (1993 live performance) Amazon
Photograph: Jeune fille blonde cousant (1875), Pierre-Auguste Renoir
4 thoughts on “Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” Krystian Zimerman”
Beautiful, ethereal, a window into a world I love to Inhabit through the miracle of beautiful recordings such as this one. I would say of all the great composers, there are seven or eight who, over the course of history have drastically changed the direction of music and Debussy is definitely one of them. Thank you for this wonderful site!
> Listening to this piece is like entering the world of a portrait by one of the great
> Impressionist painters.
This is exactly how I feel, although I understand he didn’t like his music being compared to Impressionist painting. Oh well….. 🙂
I leave this sight with a tearful farewell overcome as I am by the beautiful music.
I would like to dedicate my comment to my deceased wonderful wife Kathryn
I’m sorry to hear of the passing of your wife, Peter. I hope you can find some solace in music during this difficult time.