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La plus que lente facts for kids

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La plus que lente, L. 121 ( "The more than slow"), is a waltz for solo piano Claude Debussy wrote in 1910. Just beforehand, he had published Préludes, Book I. The piece was first played at the New Carlton Hotel in Paris. There, it was transcribed for strings. The popular 'gipsy' violinist, Léoni, perfomed it. Debussy had written it for him, and gave him the manuscript himself.

Debussy arranged the piece for small orchestra (flute, clarinet, piano, cimbalom and strings) which was published in 1912.


The title, La plus que lente, refers to a slow waltz, the valse lente genre that Debussy tried to copy. It does not refer to the speed of the piece. This piece is a typical example of how Debussy named his pieces. It is also a reaction to the slow waltz, which was very popular in France at the time. Frank Howes noted, "La plus que lente is, in Debussy's wryly humorous way, the valse lente [slow waltz] to outdo all others."

The work is marked "Molto rubato con morbidezza," indicating Debussy's encouragement of a flexible tempo.


A small statue may have inspired Debussy to write this piece. He kept this statue on his furniture, and called it "La Valse". Other people have pointed out other sources of inspiration: A piece that he had written shortly before, called Ballade, is very similar.

During the same year of its composition, an orchestration of the work was conceived, but Debussy opposed the score's heavy use of percussion and proposed a new one, writing to his publisher:


Examining the brassy score of La plus que lente, it appears to me to be uselessly ornamented with trombones, kettle drums, triangles, etc., and [therefore] it addresses itself to a sort of de luxe saloon that I am accustomed to ignore!—there are certain clumsinesses that one can easily avoid! So I permitted myself to try another kind of arrangement which seems more practical. And it is impossible to begin the same way in a saloon as in a salon. There absolutely must be a few preparatory measures. But let's not limit ourselves to beer parlors. Let's think of the numberless five-o'-clock teas where assemble the beautiful audiences I've dreamed of.

—Claude Debussy, 25 August 1910
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