About Impressionism in general
A revolution in visual arts occurred when ready-made paint in tubes came onto the market; painters no longer had to mix their paints themselves in the studio and could thus paint outdoors. In a collision between academic tradition and the young generation of artists, controlled indoor light and the constantly shifting natural landscape came into conflict. The young artists no longer cared about exactly reproducing what they saw but simply of creating an impression of it. The musical world was also inspired by this shift in visual art.
This school has abandoned two things: line, without which it is impossible to depict the shape of an object or a living thing, and colour, which gives a shape the appearance of reality. –La Presse, 29 April 1874
Music and Impressionism
Whereas Romantic music captivated the listener with compelling melodies and the richness of the music around them, Impressionism offered the freedom of association. Its profusion of delicate details and tonal colour stemmed from a new approach to melody, rhythm and harmony. The most celebrated Impressionist composition is La Mer by Debussy, where the composer depicts the sea from sunrise to a windy play of breakers. If it were a Romantic work, there would be a lone hero battling the forces of the sea.
Rhythm in Impressionism
Repeated rhythms create textures.
Melody in Impressionism
Melody becomes secondary.
Harmony in Impressionism
Harmony like a painting.
Form in Impressionism
No more themes, no more development.
Tonal colour in Impressionism
Tonal colour increases in importance.
Dynamics in Impressionism
Dynamics from figures.
Impressionism in music was not as widespread as it was in painting. The major Impressionist composer was French composer Claude Debussy.