Préludes Book I by Claude Debussy recomposed for orchestra

Composed in


3/3/3/3 – 4/3/3/1 – 3 Perc – Cel – Harp – Strings.


First performance
December 9, 2004 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (B). deFilharmonie, conducted by Daniele CALLEGARI. CD-production Dec. 14-17 at deSingel (Antwerp,B) by the same performers.

Commissioned by
Royal Flanders Philharmonic (deFilharmonie)

Dedicated to
Jan Michiels

Commercial recordings
Domusic Talent Records DOM 381004-05 (2cd)

Private Archive

Luc on “Préludes Book I by Claude Debussy”  recomposed for orchestra :

In my youth I was quite active as a pianist and played most of the “Préludes” of Book 1 by Claude Debussy. Since long I imagined to “orchestrate” all of them. In 2002 I started off with 5 of them (nrs. 2, 5, 6, 8 & 12) as a program complement for the première of my Seventh Symphony. deFilharmonie was so kind to offer me this opportunity and performed those five in September 2002 conducted by Arturo Tamayo. Everyone seemed to be very happy, so the orchestra commissioned me the remainder in order to have a “recomposition for orchestra” of the complete books. From the start, I imposed myself not to “touch” the notes Debussy had written. One wont find any octave, for instance, which was not written by Debussy himself. I remain extremely faithful to the original text, also in loud passages where the temptation is great to add notes to get a bigger effect in the orchestra. I tried to solve all the problems by the use of specific combinations of the orchestral forces in order to achieve a real symphonic sound without changing anything to the original. I did not intend in the first place to orchestrate the works as Debussy would possibly have done it, I wanted to make my own interpretation of the music as to the orchestral colours. Like Debussy himself, I use the (unpitched) percussion with the greatest possible delicacy : the minimum of effort for the maximum of effect. I do of course “orchestrate the Pedal” of the piano and had to think a lot to find orchestral solutions for many typically pianistic passage-work. I used much of my own orchestral experience, but I must say that I learned a big deal for my future compositions by working on – and actually living with – those Préludes for an intensive and long period of time. The score is dedicated to pianist Jan Michiels, whose inspiring and highly personal interpretations of these Préludes (and of my own music as well, by the way) helped me a lot to imagine some of the orchestral colours.

Luc Brewaeys