Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, known in English as Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, is a symphonic poem for orchestra by Claude Debussy, approximately 10 minutes in duration. It was first performed in Paris on December 22, 1894, conducted by Gustave Doret.
Listening Guide: Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
The Philharmonia Orchestra's Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, talks about Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and its significance for the end of the Romantic Era.
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The composition was inspired by the poem L'après-midi d'un faune by Stéphane Mallarmé, and later formed the basis for the ballet Afternoon of a Faun, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky. It is one of Debussy's most famous works and is considered a turning point in the history of music; composer-conductor Pierre Boulez even dates the awakening of modern music from this score, observing that "the flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music." It is a work that barely grasps onto tonality and harmonic function.
More pieces by Debussy