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Impressionist Music Style
By Nikki Miller and
Peter Magazzu
• 1890-1940
• The Impressionist music style was found
during the ninetieth century to the
beginning of the twentieth century in
• The Impressionist style was a reaction to
the romanticism style
• It wants to make an impression, not clearly
describe the tone of the music
• It uses whole tone scales as opposed to
major and minor scales as the romantic
style used in the past
• It involves a lot of dissonance- chords
weren’t used to relieve tension as they had
in the past
• It includes short melodies that have
different moods throughout each piece
Important Composers
The two “great” impressionists:
– Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel
Others include: Paul Dukas, Charles Griffes,
Alexander Scriabin, and Ralph Vaughan
The style influenced many composers in the
Claude Debussy
•August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918
•French composer
•Music was not centered around one
tone or pitch, he used symbolism
•Used many parallel chords and
unprepared modulations
•Music was usually about events that
occurred in his life
•Clair de Lune was one of his most
famous works
Maurice Ravel
March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937
French composer
Influenced by Claude Debussy
Known for his melodies, orchestral, and
instrumental textures and effects
• His music is found a lot in concert
repertoire, also widely known for his
orchestra pieces
• His piece “Miroirs” (Mirrors) was a five
piano piece was a “harmonic revolution”
Impressionism (1890–1940)
• The Impressionism period occurred in the
19th century in France and was a painting
movement as well
• It also focused on literature
• Basically, it was a radical movement by all
art forms- involving topics and styles that
had not been focused on or brought up
“The Embarkation for Cythera" by
Jean-Antoine Watteau.
• This painting was made by Jean- Antoine
Watteau that Claude Debussy based
“L'îsle Joyeuse" ("The Island of Joy") on
The End