1st Edition

Debussy, Bergson and the Music of 'la duree'

By Charles Frantz Copyright 2025
    176 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Charles Frantz provides a quantitative and qualitative analysis of Debussy’s music through the lens of Bergson’s philosophical perspective of durée, revealing his ‘revolution’ in musical time.

    In fin-de-siècle Paris, Debussy was revolutionizing musical time while Bergson was establishing a metaphysics that challenged the notion of measured or spatialized time. Bergson argued that real time or durée could be grasped only through intuition as opposed to analysis. Debussy eschewed analysis of music declaring that separating it into parts was better left to engineers. Debussy’s music and Bergson’s durée were conceived and imagined in the environs of nature. The cycle of seasons, the gracefulness of a blooming flower or a gentle breeze all suggest continuity, flow, and uninterrupted rhythm. The time of nature is the time of Debussy’s music and Bergson’s durée. Debussy’s use of open forms and Golden Sections create a time world of an expanded present, never ceasing. Bergson’s perception of real time is ever changing bringing the past into the present and open to unforeseen novelty.

    This book is intended primarily for scholars in the disciplines of musicology, music theory and philosophy and can be used as a text for upper level undergraduate or graduate courses in musicology or music theory. 



    Chapter I: Enigmas


    Chapter II: A Bergson Perspective for the Analysis of Debussy’s Music


    Chapter III: Debussy and Bergson in Paris: Perspectives on Spiritualism, Materialism,

                          Science and Nature


    Chapter IV: Bergson, Proust and Debussy: Correspondences and Distinctions


    Chapter V: La Durée: Nature and Fluidity


    Chapter VI: ‘The Perception of Change’: An Indivisible Reality


    Chapter VII: Ondine: The Apparent Paradox of Changeability and Indivisibility


    Chapter VIII: Evoking Ancient Memories


    Chapter IX: Humor and the Living


    Chapter X: Debussy’s Egypt: Stasis and Mobility in Canope


    Chapter XI: Debussy’s Music, Bergson’s La Durée: The Act of Creation in Painting









    Dr Charles Frantz is a guitarist, pianist, and educator. He has over thirty years of teaching experience in music history, theory, and piano along with a breadth of performance experience that includes concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Philadelphia Academy of Music. He leads the New Jersey Jazz Quartet on guitar and regularly performs as a soloist.