With Monet In Denver, CPR Classical Explores Music Inspired By Impressionist Revolution

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6min 46sec
Photo: Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum
Claude Monet’s Path in the Wheat Fields at Pourville, 1882.
French Impressionist Music And Its Relationship With Art

Monet Mondays, a new feature through January on CPR Classical, will explore the rich catalog of French Impressionist music and its relationship with the art that helped inspire it. 

Monet Mondays takes inspiration from the Denver Art Museum’s new exhibit “Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature,” which opens Oct. 21. It features more than 120 Monet paintings, the largest exhibit of his work in the U.S. in more than two decades.

Painter Claude Monet and composer Claude Debussy both painted Impressionist canvases. Monet used his signature style of thin, yet distinct, brush strokes and blurred edges for his landscape paintings. But how do you describe the Impressionist revolution in music that composer Claude Debussy launched in 1894 with his piece "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun?"

You could say the music is dreamy. It doesn’t have any hard edges. It’s hard to tap your toe to it.

Conductor David Robertson, who has presented many multimedia concerts in Impressionism, says Impressionism brought a new clarity to music. 

"The kind of clarity you would use to describe moonlight on water," Robertson said.

But even that can be hard to wrap your head around. You simply must hear the music. 

Beginning Monday, Oct. 28, CPR Classical will debut a new weekly radio feature entitled Monet Mondays, which will be a musical exploration of how the Impressionist revolution in art spilled over to music. The celebration continues during the Monet exhibit at the DAM, which ends Feb. 2, 2020.

Through audio stories and music we’ll explore what Impressionism in music really is, dive deep into Debussy’s revolutionary "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun," explore how water and light was as important to Impressionist composers as gardens and haystacks were to Monet, discover the famous artist salons where Monet and Debussy met and trace the lasting impacts of Impressionism.

This story is part of a Monet Mondays series CPR Classical is airing every Monday through January 2020. The stories and music about Impressionism air on CPR Classical (88.1 FM in Denver) at 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m.. 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.. Listen to CPR Classical on your radio at 88.1 FM in Denver, stream the music on this website, or by asking your smart speaker to "Play CPR Classical." (Find other ways to listen.)

CD of great Impressionist pieces, made in in partnership with the Denver Art Museum and CPR Classical.

For a limited time, if you become a member of Colorado Public Radio, you'll receive "Music in Monet's Time," a custom CD of greatest Impressionist works created by CPR Classical in partnership with the Denver Art Museum.