I love the quote Greenberg read by a perplexed Richard Strauss reaction to Debussy
"There's nothing in it. No Music, nothing consecutive, no musical phrases, no development" - Richard Strauss
Exactly Mr. Strauss.
I mean I admit I kinda like Debussy as he does like some pretty works but his work goes nowhere, lack contrast is harmonically static. His music is just one giant blur from beginning to end.
Really just hearing various quotes from Debussy really just cement why I can't take him seriously.
A) he dislike sonata form
b) he dislikes development section of German works (which IMO is the best part of classical work)
c) he dislikes Beethoven and German music in general
How can I take any composer seriously with that attitude?
The thing is I think Debussy innovation does actually have some degree of merit but only when it is synthesis with the German model.
A debussy style of using consonant intervals but in unconventional harmonies could have made a really good introduction of a sonata form movement or a contrasting theme (that works essentially as an absent theme). Hell even a really unconventional replacement of a development section where it's beautiful dream like harmonic blurring would make effective contrast with the stability of traditional harmonies and the lack of a development section could be covered by an exciting modulating bridge.
Less ideologically extreme and xenophobic Debussy could have integrated his original method of composing with traditional German model and created something interesting
Despite my personal rejection of Debussy style, I will say that Greenberg lectures is doing a pretty good job at explaining the mechanics of Debussy style and most importantly the rationale behind it (beyond the fact that it is original). Debussy wants to capture the beauty of an individual moment and create a sense of timelessness that individual moment has. The music doesn't go anywhere because if you are in that moment of relaxation and transcendental beauty would you want to go anywhere else?
I put Debussy innovations in the same category as Wagner innovations. innovations that I disagree with but can see where they are coming from which is in contrast with Stravinsky who writes music that is completely perplexing where I just don't see the point.
Oh yeah, Greenberg is covering Stravinsky next....