Today’s Google doodle features a movable feast for your eyes and ears.
French composer Claude Debussy (pronounced “Deb-u-see”) was born 151 years ago today and Google mocked up an elegant animated moonlit scene set to one of Debussy’s most prominent compositions, “Clair de Lune.” Taking place along the Seine river, there’s a backdrop of late 19th century street scenes: a windmill guards the sky, a penny-farthing bicycle and streetcars glide along the road, balloons soar, and a steamboat lumbers through the waters. The lights of the buildings flicker on and off, syncopated to the notes of “Clair de Lune.” The denouement of the doodle occurs when two rowboaters, stuck in the rain, come together under a single red umbrella. So romantical, ain’t it?
One of the most influential composers of the 20th century, Debussy was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1862. Early on, Debussy demonstrated tremendous musical aptitude, winning the unofficial title for most accomplished fourth-grader ever when he entered the Conservatoire de Paris. He was influenced by Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and even the literary and visual arts, according to the Musée d’Orsay. Though often lumped into the Impressionist movement, Debussy had disdained the term, preferring to rebel against the teachings of his school by favoring unusual tonal combinations. Debussy died in Paris in 1918 from colon cancer.
“Clair de Lune,” meaning “moonlight, is the third movement of Debussy’s Suite bergamasque. The soothing and delicate composition has been used in many a movie score (see Atonement, Ocean’s Eleven, and even the Muppets), and it’s hard not to hear why, as it’s so mellifluous and lulling, and just like any magical movie score, it’ll make you forget your dreary work day, well almost.