Sheet Music: Clair de lune

TitleClair de lune
from Suite bergamasque
Opus numberL. 75
ComposerClaude Debussy (1862–1918)
InstrumentationFlute and Piano
KeyD-flat major
Time signature9/8
Tempo54 BPM
Performance time3:50
Difficulty leveladvanced
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (193 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (3.3 MB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (3.3 MB)
Date added2009-12-05
Last updated2009-12-05
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 28.6 (extremely popular)
20th century


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Saturday 5 December 2009

Tune of the Day: Clair de lune

from “Suite bergamasque” by Claude Debussy
Clair de lune

The Suite bergamasque is one of the most famous piano suites by Claude Debussy. It was likely named after Paul Verlaine's poem “Clair de lune”, which possibly alludes to a bergamask, a clumsy rustic dance. Debussy wrote the suite in 1888 at age 26, but the work was not published until 1903, and the extent to which he revised it during the interval is unclear. Certainly the published work is a great stylistic advance over the few short piano works which preceded it, but whether that advance is due to an early maturity or to much later alteration will perhaps always elude historians.

The third movement of Suite bergamasque is its most famous. Titled “Clair de lune” (“Moonlight”), it was written with Paul Verlaine's poem of the same name in mind. It is perhaps the most famous piece Debussy ever penned, and has a way of drawing the listener into its magical atmosphere. It is mostly played slowly, pianissimo (very softly), and in the key of D-flat major (with five flats, beginners beware!).