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“Claude Achilles Debussy” (Rice Institute Lecture no. 1, January 27, 1925), Unpublished Stenographer’s Transcript (original English text)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2020

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Summary

Ladies and gentlemen: My task here this evening is brief, simple, and particularly pleasant.

It has been one of the constant purposes of the Rice Institute from the beginning, not only to give instructions to resident students in Letters, Science, and Art, but also to try to perform some service for the higher cultural and spiritual welfare of the community. In performing that task, we have been, as you all know, very generously aided by certain citizens of Houston. We have presented to you on a number of occasions eminent lecturers from the Short Foundation in Civics and Philanthropy, the Gordon Lectureship in Public Affairs, and now tonight, for the second time, on [sic] the Rice Institute Lectureship in Music.

The lecturer who comes to us tonight needs very few words of introduction from me. Her reputation is international. Mr. Walter Damrosch has said of her that he has never met a woman her superior in musicianship. To that praise from a high authority, I certainly could add nothing, and I feel sure that I speak the sentiments of this audience here tonight in giving her a most cordial welcome to the Rice Institute and to the city of Houston: Miss Boulanger. (Applause.)

Miss Boulanger

Ladies and Gentlemen. I must first apologize for my English, which is, I know very weak, and if my mistakes are many, I trust you will not laugh, but if you do, I will not be hurt at all; it will only remind me of the good times I have had in Paris with my American students, who laugh often.

The subject I have today for you is one which appears to me to be very important.

Debussy came at an opportune time; his influence was tremendously important, tremendously necessary; but the progress of music was so great during the last fifteen years that, of course, the younger musicians of today have a tendency to forget what his music is and what they themselves owe to Debussy.

Debussy was born in 1863 in St. Germain-en-Laye.

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Nadia Boulanger
Thoughts on Music
, pp. 353 - 363
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

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