A Google doodle for Debussy

Today’s animated Google doodle, accompanied by lovely music (“Clair de Lune”), honors the 151st anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy (1862-1918). The Guardian explains:

The doodle features a moonlit riverside scene which progresses to the sound of the piece, the third movement of his most famous piano suites, Suite bergamasque (1890–1905). Lights in the streets and houses flicker on and off in time to the music as the silhouettes of cars, boats and cyclists pass by, smoke rises from chimneys and rain begins to fall.

The animation ends with two people in different boats crossing paths on the river and sharing a red umbrella.

Here’s a screenshot, but go here to see the whole thing, and be sure to press the red “start” button on the balloon at the beginning:

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 4.40.58 AM

My favorite Debussy piece is “La Mer” (“The sea”). If you have 24 minutes to spare, listen to this version by the London Symphony Orchestra:


  1. JBlilie
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    I love debussy, especially La fille aux cheveux de lin. Thanks!

  2. Grania Spingies
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Very elegantly done!

    One can criticize Google for certain strange actions they have taken as a business, but the Doodle series is one of the good things: whimsical little celebrations of humanity at its brightest.

    • Notagod
      Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

      I’m at least 50% sure someday there will be reports of a scandal wherein business gets caught buying google user information and combining that with individual’s information collected by NSA contractors and/or those contractors combining the information and selling it to businesses and the mega wealthy.

      I use duckduckgo.com for searches just to hopefully minimize the problem a little bit.

  3. Barry Lyons
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    On the chamber music front, my favorite piece by Debussy is the Violin Sonata. As for the piano music, Michelangeli’s recordings of the Preludes are fantastic.

  4. Thomas Beck
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    I love his string quartet, esp. the incredibly beautiful third movement, one of the loveliest pieces of music ever composed by anyone.

  5. Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on hitchens67 Atheism WOW!! Campaign.

  6. Jeff J
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    They’re rowing the wrong way.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted August 22, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      In some parts of Europe it’s usual to row in the direction you’re facing by pushing the oars, instead of pulling. Less speed, but less neck-twisting.

  7. Kevin Henderson
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Everything Debussy did was magical.

    One of my top fifteen operas:
    Pelleas et Melisande
    is well worth a listen.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Debussy is a very rare example of a straight composer who wrote on LGBT themes. He was well aware of the emergence of St. Sebastian as a gay icon when he wrote “The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” (although it’s not one of my favorites of his), and he wrote two cycles of short pieces (one vocal) based on Pierre Louys poem cycle “Songs of Bilitis” about a young lesbian in ancient Greece.

  9. JR
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Dear Jerry,

    I’m glad you like Debussy. There may still be hope for you! You see, I despaired after yesterday’s post on music, where you mentioned jazz without a single reference to Miles Davis. Sorry, but I couldn’t take anything else you said on music seriously.


    • Posted August 22, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Ummm. . . I couldn’t mention every jazz musician I liked, and I do like Miles Davis— as well as Coltrane, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, and many others I didn’t name.

      Are you really serious in saying that after I didn’t mention Miles Davis, you just dismissed everything I said about music. If that’s not a joke, then I’m distressed.

      • JR
        Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        I jest. Do not be distressed.

        However, great as all the other jazz musicians you mentioned are, Miles Davis is rather unique in the history of jazz. Like it or not, “Bitches Brew” pretty much revolutionized jazz in 1970.

  10. Posted August 22, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    When I need to relax, I often listen to Debussy’s piano music.

    If the first Arabesque doesn’t soothe you, nothing will.

  11. Kurt Helf
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I believe, if I heard right on last week’s Freethought Radio podcast, Debussy was also an atheist.

    • Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      It’s not absolutely clear, but yes, basically.

      I think he was “interested” in some kind of paganism, i. e., not actual subscription but more “for fun”.

      Someone who has more time to interrogate something more authoritative than their own recollection may correct me.

  12. RFW
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Some twenty years ago, I was laid up with a herniated disk. Out of boredom (instead of shooting some innocent) I decided to listen through my entire CD collection so when friends mocked that I probably had CDs I’d never listen to, I could assure them that every one had been listened to at least twice.

    I started at Z (Zappa, Zemlinsky) and worked my way backwards to A (Abba, Antheil, Leroy Anderson, and Laurie Anderson). Very few of the CDs impressed me as desert island material,but one group managed that in spades: Paul Jacobs’ recordings of Debussy piano music. Not that the rest were bad, but only those few and maybe one or two others had that sublime quality you want in desert island listening.

    PS: the listen-through took eleven years to complete.

    PPS: Jacobs was the New York Philharmonic’s pianist. He was an early victim of AIDS, to the world’s loss. He recorded solo works for Nonesuch in its heyday and most or all of those recordings have made it to commercial CD at one point or another. They’re probably available online as MP3s.

  13. Ed
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    This August 22 2013 Paris theme is the best Google theme ever, amazing. I don’t think they will be able to top it.

%d bloggers like this: