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World War I Centenary: Debussy Concert

Saturday 10 November 2018 19:00-21:00

As part of a daylong programme of commemoration, celebration, and culture on the day before the centenary of Armistice Day, Florian Kaplick will perform a concert of works composed by Debussy in the shadow of World War I, including his celebrated ballet music La boîte à joujoux.

The year 2018 is not only the centenary of the World War I Armistice, but also of the death of Claude Debussy, one of France’s most eminent composers of all times. To celebrate peace and friendship between nations, this concert brings together a German pianist with his passion for French music in a venue on British ground.

The first part of the concert is dedicated to the last large work Debussy composed before the great catastrophe of the war began: La boîte à joujoux, the enchanting music for a picture book by the artist and writer André Hellé:

When at midnight the clock’s last stroke settles into silence and all living things are soundly asleep, life begins for those who have spent the whole day in their cramped toy box: dolls, puppets, polichinellos, and soldiers find their loves and wage their wars.

But they do not have much time. Early each morning they must return to their box as a normal lifeless toy. Like people during the day, the toys and playthings search through the night for happiness and a good and fulfilling life. As Hellé wrote “maybe toy boxes are really just like towns in which toys live like people”. Unlike humans, however, toys have the chance to reinvent their lives every night anew…


The second part focuses on piano pieces Debussy wrote during the time of war until his death in March 1918: Berceuse héroique, Pour l’oeuvre du "Vêtement du blessé", Élégie, Pour un tombeau sans nom and Debussy’s only recently discovered very last composition Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon.


Florian Kaplick trained as a musician in Nuremberg at the Meistersinger-Konservatorium of music. He is a versatile performer, able to express his varied artistic interests as a pianist, conductor, reciter, and Dadaist at home and abroad.

Claude Debussy is a French composer who straddled the 19th and 20th centuries. Known as a free-spirited and noncomformist musician, Debussy was often characterised as a musical impressionist, a label he never accepted. His music is most notable for its chromatic liberty and the attention given to selecting each instrument’s timbre. For more information on Debussy, please refer to this video created by our neighbour, the National Library of Scotland, in commemoration of the centenary of his death.

This event is delivered as a coproduction with the Goethe-Institut Glasgow and will be followed by a short wine reception offered by the Institut français d’Ecosse

Event details:

Debussy and Armistice Centenary Concert
Saturday, 10 November 2018, 7.00 - 9.00pm
FREE, but ticketed

Institut français d’Ecosse
West Parliament Square
Edinburgh EH1 1RF

Advanced booking recommended ONLINE via our extranet, at 0131 285 60 30, or at info ifecosse.org.uk

Image: Hommage à Debussy, 1952
Credit: Raoul Dufy

In collaboration with:

Institut Français Écosse 2022