On this particularly blah afternoon while listening to Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune, my favourite classical piece – that I’m almost a little ashamed to say Twilight the movie introduced me to – on YouTube, I got to wondering about the composer, and thus turned to the other Internet giant, Wikipedia, for answers.
Claude Debussy grew up in a privileged house, and started his musical education at the age of 7. His talent won him the coveted Prix de Rome, a scholarship initiated by Louis XIV, the flamboyant Sun King, that allowed winners to go to Rome and study – and thus emulate – the great works from antiquity and the Renaissance (thank you once again, Wikipedia).
It was from the Prix de Rome Wikipedia page that I learnt of the prize’s rejection of several vastly talented individuals such as Edgar Degas who painted lots and lots of dancers – that made up, in fact, more than half his oeuvre – and Édouard Manet whose most famous works include Luncheon on the Grass featuring naked women but clothed men, and Olympia featuring a nude woman starring right out of the canvas, and directly at the gazer – that art experts speculate to be the portrait of a prostitute. Le scandale!
And because I identify myself as an underdog and a Francophile, I have decided to immerse myself in the French arts and culture.
This will culminate in an extended stay in France – sort of an Eat, Pray, Love, but all within the French borders.
And just so I don’t make a fool of myself by mistaking vair for verre – “Un vair de vin, s’il vous plait.” – the former refers to squirrel fur and the latter glass, I shall begin a series of posts about the French culture and arts.