Perhaps one of the greatest of all French composers, Claude Debussy was born in 1862 and lived until 1918. He is considered a pivotal figure in the transition between the late-Romantic period into the period of the modernists (Brook 129). He is considered the founder of the Impressionist school of music, but he found the concept of Impressionism to be unimpressive and thought it was used quite badly (Halford and Debussy 2). However, his influence during this period was remarkable and his work is considered to be the perfect example of Impressionist music.
Debussy was considered part of the Symbolism movement in France, his dark tones emulating the more gothic reminiscence of the late-Romantic period. However, it is impossible to put Debussy into any one movement of the time period, each new work expressing aspects of yet another part of the world of the arts. Debussy used all forms of art. painting, literature, and music, to express his aesthetics. “Avoiding any direct translation of feeling, the composer (meaning Debussy) endeavors to reproduce the most remote harmonics suggested by poems or by his own impressions. he thus creates symbols of symbols” (Vallas 118).
In 1890, Debussy sold five piano pieces which were most likely been composed long before that year. Reverie was most likely written between 1880 and 1884, although the original work no longer exists (Woodstra, Brennan and Schrott 355). One of those pieces was Reverie, written for piano and despite his own ambivalence about the piece, destined to be one of his most popular (Bachus 31). According to Valas, “(Reverie) contains some unusual harmonies and a certain amount of pianistic padding, and reveals the composer's taste for reoccurring designs” (70). Debussy wrote of the piece “It was a mistake to bring out the Reverie. It is an unimportant work which was written in a great hurry to oblige Hartman: in other words, It is bad”.