French Composers’ Names – Claude Debussy

The next installment in our French Composers’ Names series might be one of the most famous French composers: Claude Debussy.

One could see two difficulties in pronouncing his last name: the unaccented e, and the u. When a French e is unaccented and not in front of a double consonant (as in belle, steppe, gemme, etc. in which case it will sound like an è), its sound is very similar to an American [uh] sound, with a little bit more lips involved (protruded). We have already covered the u sound in this series when we talked about Tristan Murail. Remember that you have to pronounce an [ee] sound with your lips protruded. The -ssy is really easy for English speakers—no problem here.

Alright, here it is:

Link to MP3 – Claude Debussy | Get Claude Debussy sheet music!

Irrelevant trivia: Claude Debussy used to be on our 20 Francs bank notes before the Euro was adopted on January 1st, 2002. As a kid I was fascinated by this small brown note, that also represented a lot of pocket money (~US $3)!


Twenty francs banknote / Claude Debussy

Twenty francs banknote / Claude Debussy

Note the background, reminiscent of his famous symphonic sketches…