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In 1874, a group of artists called the Anonymous Society of Painters,

Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. organized an exhibition in Paris that


launched the movement called Impressionism. Its founding members
included Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro, among
others. The group was unified only by its independence from the official
annual Salon, for which a jury of artists from the Acadmie des Beaux-
Arts selected artworks and awarded medals. The independent artists,
despite their diverse approaches to painting, appeared to
contemporaries as a group. While conservative critics panned their
work for its unfinished, sketchlike appearance, more progressive writers
praised it for its depiction of modern life. Edmond Duranty, for example,
in his 1876 essay La Nouvelle Peinture (The New Painting), wrote of
their depiction of contemporary subject matter in a suitably innovative
style as a revolution in painting. The exhibiting collective avoided
choosing a title that would imply a unified movement or school,
although some of them subsequently adopted the name by which they
would eventually be known, the Impressionists. Their work is
recognized today for its modernity, embodied in its rejection of
established styles, its incorporation of new technology and ideas, and
its depiction of modern life.

In addition to their radical technique, the bright colors of
Impressionist canvases were shocking for eyes accustomed
to the more sober colors of Academic painting.
Related

Timelines (3)

Primary Thematic Essays (6)

Other Thematic Essays (36)

Maps (2)

Index Terms (28)


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Claude Monet's Impression, Sunrise (Muse Marmottan Monet, Paris)
exhibited in 1874, gave the Impressionist movement its name when the
critic Louis Leroy accused it of being a sketch or "impression," not a
finished painting. It demonstrates the techniques many of the independent
artists adopted: short, broken brushstrokes that barely convey forms, pure
unblended colors, and an emphasis on the effects of light. Rather than
neutral white, grays, and blacks, Impressionists often rendered shadows
and highlights in color. The artists' loose brushwork gives an effect of
spontaneity and effortlessness that masks their often carefully constructed
compositions, such as in Alfred Sisley's 1878 Alle of Chestnut Trees
(1975.1.211). This seemingly casual style became widely accepted, even
in the official Salon, as the new language with which to depict modern life.
In addition to their radical technique, the bright colors of Impressionist
canvases were shocking for eyes accustomed to the more sober colors of
Academic painting. Many of the independent artists chose not to apply the
thick golden varnish that painters customarily used to tone down their
works. The paints themselves were more vivid as well. The nineteenth
century saw the development of synthetic pigments for artists' paints,
providing vibrant shades of blue, green, and yellow that painters had never
used before. douard Manet's 1874 Boating (29.100.115), for example,
features an expanse of the new Cerulean blue and synthetic ultramarine.
Depicted in a radically cropped, Japanese-inspired composition, the
fashionable boater and his companion embody modernity in their form,
their subject matter, and the very materials used to paint them. Such
images of suburban and rural leisure outside of Paris were a popular
subject for the Impressionists, notably Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Several of them lived in the country for part or all of the year. New railway
lines radiating out from the city made travel so convenient that Parisians
virtually flooded into the countryside every weekend. While some of the
Impressionists, such as Pissarro, focused on the daily life of local villagers
in Pontoise, most preferred to depict the vacationers' rural pastimes. The
boating and bathing establishments that flourished in these regions
became favorite motifs. In his 1869 La Grenouillre (29.100.112), for
example, Monet's characteristically loose painting style complements the
leisure activities he portrays. Landscapes, which figure prominently in
Impressionist art, were also brought up to date with innovative
compositions, light effects, and use of color. Monet in particular
emphasized the modernization of the landscape by including railways and
factories, signs of encroaching industrialization that would have seemed
inappropriate to the Barbizon artists of the previous generation.
Perhaps the prime site of modernity in the late nineteenth century was
the city of Paris itself, renovated between 1853 and 1870 under Emperor
Napoleon III. His prefect, Baron Haussmann, laid the plans, tearing down
old buildings to create more open space for a cleaner, safer city. Also
contributing to its new look was the Siege of Paris during the Franco-
Prussian War (187071), which required reconstructing the parts of the city
that had been destroyed. Impressionists such as Pissarro and Gustave
Caillebotte enthusiastically painted the renovated city, employing their new
style to depict its wide boulevards, public gardens, and grand buildings.
While some focused on the cityscapes, others turned their sights to the
city's inhabitants. The Paris population explosion after the Franco-Prussian
War gave them a tremendous amount of material for their scenes of urban
life. Characteristic of these scenes was the mixing of social classes that
took place in public settings. Degas and Caillebotte focused on working
people, including singers and dancers, as well as workmen. Others,
including Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, depicted the privileged
classes. The Impressionists also painted new forms of leisure, including
theatrical entertainment (such as Cassatt's 1878 In the Loge [Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston]), cafs, popular concerts, and dances. Taking an
approach similar to Naturalist writers such as mile Zola, the painters of
urban scenes depicted fleeting yet typical moments in the lives of
characters they observed. Caillebotte's 1877 Paris Street, Rainy Day (Art
Institute, Chicago) exemplifies how these artists abandoned sentimental
depictions and explicit narratives, adopting instead a detached, objective
view that merely suggests what is going on. The independent collective
had a fluid membership over the course of the eight exhibitions it
organized between 1874 and 1886, with the number of participating artists
ranging from nine to thirty. Pissarro, the eldest, was the only artist who
exhibited in all eight shows, while Morisot participated in seven. Ideas for
an independent exhibition had been discussed as early as 1867, but the
Franco-Prussian War intervened. The painter Frdric Bazille, who had
been leading the efforts, was killed in the war. Subsequent exhibitions
were headed by different artists. Philosophical and political differences
among the artists led to heated disputes and fractures, causing fluctuations
in the contributors. The exhibitions even included the works of more
conservative artists who simply refused to submit their work to the Salon
jury. Also participating in the independent exhibitions were Paul Czanne
and Paul Gauguin, whose later styles grew out of their early work with the
Impressionists. The last of the independent exhibitions in 1886 also
saw the beginning of a new phase in avant-garde painting. By this time,
few of the participants were working in a recognizably Impressionist
manner. Most of the core members were developing new, individual styles
that caused ruptures in the group's tenuous unity. Pissarro promoted the
participation of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, in addition to adopting
their new technique based on points of pure color, known as Neo-
Impressionism. The young Gauguin was making forays into Primitivism.
The nascent Symbolist Odilon Redon also contributed, though his style
was unlike that of any other participant. Because of the group's stylistic
and philosophical fragmentation, and because of the need for assured
income, some of the core members such as Monet and Renoir exhibited in
venues where their works were more likely to sell. Its many facets and
varied participants make the Impressionist movement difficult to define.
Indeed, its life seems as fleeting as the light effects it sought to capture.
Even so, Impressionism was a movement of enduring consequence, as its
embrace of modernity made it the springboard for later avant-garde art in
Europe.

Impressionism.
A philosophical, aesthetic and polemical term borrowed from late 19th-century
French painting. It was first used to mock Monets Impression, Sunrise, painted
in 1873 and shown in the first of eight Impressionist exhibitions (187486), and
later to categorize the work of such artists as Manet, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley,
Renoir, Czanne and Regnault. Impressionist also describes aspects of
Turner, Whistler, the English Pre-Raphaelites and certain American painters,
as well as the literary style of Poe and the Goncourt brothers, and the free
verse and fluidity of reality in symbolist poetry.
1. Aesthetic and scientific principles.
The word Impressionism did not appear in conjunction with a specific musical
aesthetic until the 1880s (although it had been used earlier in titles of travel
pieces and descriptions of 19th-century programme music). Perhaps referring
to the Pices pittoresques of Chabrier, a friend of the painters and collector of
their work, Renoir spoke to Wagner in 1882 of the Impressionists in music.
More importantly for historians, the secretary of the Acadmie des Beaux Arts
used the word in 1887 to attack Debussys envoi from Rome, Printemps.
Besides displaying an exaggerated sense of musical colour, the work called
into question the authority of academic values, and so its impressionism
appeared one of the most dangerous enemies of truth in art.
Several meanings underlie and accompany this concept, each with its own
artistic implications. The oldest and in some ways the most important comes
from Humes Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748), in which he
describes an impression as the immediate effect of hearing, seeing or feeling
on the mind. The word entered discussions about art in the 1860s just as
French positivists, echoing Humes concerns and interest in physiopsychology,
began their studies of perception. Taine and Littr among others focussed on
sensations the effect that objects make on sense organs as an important
area of empirical research. They believed that impressions (a synonym for
sensations) were primordial, the embryos of ones knowledge of self and the
world and, significantly, a product of the interaction between subject and
object. Critics saw something similar in contemporary painting, particularly that
which reflected a new relationship to nature. Jules-Antoine Castagnary, who in
1874 was the first to dub the painters Impressionists observed that they
render not the landscape but the sensation produced by the landscape.
Although these painters placed more emphasis on personal, subjective
experience than did the positivists, they too believed that any art based on
impressions had the capacity to synthesize subject and object. Impressions
then were not ends in themselves, but the means to new experiences of
reality. Responding to the breakdown of the visual spectrum into what was
assumed to be characteristic of unreflective vision, that is the vibrations of
colour and light, these artists simplified their palettes by using only colours of
the prism, replaced light-and-dark oppositions with a new concept of visual
harmony, and created mosaics of distinct rather than blended colours and
forms. Critics considered this physiological revolution of the human eye an
attempt to render visual experiences more alive, and viewers more perceptive
of nuances. In 1883 Jules Laforgue, one of the first to see an affinity between
Wagner and Impressionist art, compared this kind of vision to aural
experiences in which the ear easily analyses harmonics like an auditory
prism. As interest in optics and Charles Henrys chromatic circle of colours
grew, the more scientifically minded neo-Impressionists of the late 1880s
focussed on the physics of coloured vibrations per se, the role of contrasting
colours in the creation of visual harmony, and the effect of the artists nervous
system on the nature of the impressions.
Similar issues were associated with 19th-century music deemed Impressionist.
Critics hailed Beethovens Pastoral Symphony as the first attempt to paint the
sensual world in sound even though it followed a long tradition of programme
music by composers as different as Janequin, Byrd, Marais, Telemann,
Rameau and Gluck who used sound to suggest pictures or the composers
emotion before nature. Wagners nature music, especially the Forest Murmurs
from Siegfried and vaporous moments in Parsifal and Tristan, also elicited
vague references to musical Impressionism. Palmer argues that although
Chabrier lacked the intense preoccupation with personal sensation so
characteristic of Debussy, he was the first to translate the Impressionist
theories into music, his chiaroscuro-like effects predating those of both
Debussy and Delius. However, it was Debussys extension of these ideas
which had a lasting impact on the future of music. Printemps, an evocation of
the slow and arduous birth of things in nature, parallels not only the painters
turn to open-air subjects, but also their exploration of unusual colours and
mosaic-like designs. Debussy extended the orchestral palette with harp
harmonics, muted cymbals and a wordless chorus singing with closed lips
(later Delius did the same in A Song of the High Hills and Ravel in Daphnis et
Chl). In Prlude laprs-midi dun faune and subsequent pieces he
increasingly emphasized distinct sound-colours (those produced by individual
instruments, rather than the composite ones of chamber or orchestral
ensembles). And, like the Impressionist painters and later the symbolist poets,
Debussy wanted music not merely to represent nature, but to reflect the
mysterious correspondences between Nature and the Imagination.
Just as contemporary physics informed new ideas about painting, Helmholtzs
acoustics and developments in the spectral analysis of sound fed composers
interest in musical resonance and the dissolution of form by vibrations. In much
of Debussys music, as in Impressionist pieces by Delius, Ravel and others,
the composer arrests movement on 9th and other added-note chords, not to
produce dissonant tension but, as Dukas put it, to make multiple resonances
vibrate. This attention to distant overtones, particularly generated by gong-like
lower bass notes, produces a new sense of musical space, in effect giving a
greater sense of the physical reality of sound. The wide dynamic and registral
range a complete scale of nuances can effect subtle vibrations in the
listeners nervous system. In one of his earliest essays (1899), Emile
Vuillermoz reiterated concerns expressed earlier by Laforgue about the
problems of line and fixed forms. Sounding like a neo-Impressionist, he
suggested that the progressive refinement of our nerves [by this music] leads
us to think that this is the path of musical progress.
2. Stylistic innovation.
The second category of meaning associated with Impressionism, also derived
from criticism of the early Impressionist painters, relates to the self-conscious
individualism of the artists in the original exhibitions, and to what Shiff calls the
technique of originality. Like the concerts of the Socit Nationale which
began around the same time, Impressionist exhibitions were not unified by
style, but started as an attempt by a diverse and complex group of young
painters to show their own work independent of the juried Salons. The word
Impressionism rapidly became generic, referring to the avant garde of the
1870s and 80s, and later even the symbolists with whom the Impressionists
shared more than is often acknowledged. What these artists agreed on was
the inversion of conventional hierarchies and values, sometimes by means of
influences from the distant past and exotic places. Rejecting the use of
imposing forms to project grandeur and promote intellectual reflection,
Impressionists favoured delicate sensuality, immediacy and the idea of art as
an invitation to pleasure. They sought to renew a sense of the mystery of life
and the beauty of the world through perception itself, using art to reveal the
deep intuitions of the unconscious. Not incidentally they believed that the way
images and sounds are produced affects their perception. Instead of working
from line to colour, artists like Czanne conceived painting in terms of colour
relationships, line and form being secondary to juxtapositions of colour and
light. Neo-Impressionists like Signac and Seurat, by contrast, returned to more
conscious thinking about compositional form and applied systematic principles
concerning line and colour to elicit specific correspondences for emotional
states. These preoccupations paved the way for early experiments with anti-
naturalistic flat surfaces by post-Impressionists like Matisse.
In music the association between Impressionism and innovation was more
short-lived and more narrowly restricted to Debussy and those whose music
resembled or was influenced by him. These composers attempt to explore the
fleeting moment and the mystery of life led them to seek musical equivalents
for water, fountains, fog, clouds and the night, and to substitute sequences of
major 2nds, unresolved chords and other sound-colours for precise designs,
solid, clear forms, and logical developments. To convey a sense of the
intangible flux of time, they used extended tremolos and other kinds of
ostinatos as well as a variety of rhythmic densities. But, like the painters who
stressed not new realities but new perceptions of it, Debussy explained that
this musics unexpected charm came not so much from the chords or timbres
themselves already found in the vocabularies of composers such as Field,
Chopin, Liszt, Grieg, Franck, Balakirev, Borodin and Wagner but from their
mise en place, the rigorous choice of what precedes and what follows. For
Debussy form was the result of a succession of colours and rhythms de
couleurs et de temps rythms or, as Dukas put it, a series of sensations
rather than the deductions of a musical thought. This concept in turn
demanded new approaches to performance. In interpreting Ravels Jeux deau,
the pianist Ricardo Vies used the pedals liberally when playing fast-moving
passages in the high registers to bring out the hazy impression of vibrations in
the air.
Yet to describe Debussys aesthetic as Impressionist is not entirely accurate,
for his notion of musical line was as neo-Impressionist as it was Impressionist,
and his musical innovations owed much to his predecessors. Like the
Impressionist painters, who responded to Haussmanns transformation of Paris
and sought to disguise the banality of its forms, Debussy gave the musical line
a decorative function. Eschewing conventional melodies, he fragmented
themes into short motives and used repetitive figurations resembling those of
Liszt and in Russia, The Five. Quickly moving passages wherein overall
direction and texture are more audible than individual notes and rhythms give
the effect of quasi-improvisation. At other moments in his and other
Impressionist music, two kinds of line interact. As in Monets and Renoirs
paintings where sketchlike images of people vibrating with the rhythms of
nature are juxtaposed with the straight lines of Haussmanns gardens and
avenues or industrial railroads and bridges, sinuous arabesques in this music,
liberated from their dependence on functional harmony and sometimes
incorporating medieval, whole-tone or pentatonic scales, give a sense of
timelessness, of a hypnotic turning in place, while clearly etched tunes focus
the listeners attention. Here, however, the resemblance to Impressionist
painting breaks down. While the straight lines of Impressionist painting came
from modern life, Debussys melodies were often derived from folksongs, as in
music by The Five. Reflecting the return of traditional values more
characteristic of neo-Impressionist art, they are simple and hark back to earlier
times or pastoral settings, often with a nationalist subtext. This is also the case
in music imitating or incorporating Spanish popular song (such as that of
Ravel, Albniz, and Falla), or the Celtic traditions of Brittany or western Ireland.
The strongly melodic character of Ravels music likewise places him outside
the purely Impressionist style.
3. Social and political associations.
Two other meanings of Impressionism circulated in the late 19th century. One
was an association with women. This came not only from the importance of
nature, leisure, sensuality and idealism in the aesthetic, but also from the role
painters such as Morisot played in the Impressionist exhibitions. Over time this
connotation of the word has been used to discount other meanings,
undermining the serious intentions of the aesthetics original proponents and
their contribution to artistic progress. A less obvious meaning of Impressionism
relates to its socio-political implications. Although Impressionist painting was
never explicitly political Paul Tucker argues that Alsace and Lorraine were on
the minds of Parisians during the first Impressionist exhibition, and that the
prevalence of French subjects in the paintings reflected the artists patriotism.
Castagnary considered their individualist stance a model for French citizens
emancipation from dogma, essential to the reconstruction of the country after
the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. Although Renoir was the only
Impressionist painter who came from the working class, Mallarm saw the new
art as an expression of working-class vision and ideology: its pictorial flatness
and simplicity mimicked the popular forms favoured by the rising class of
workers. He compared the Impressionists with the Intransigeants, a radical and
democratic, anti-monarchist and anarchist wing of the Spanish Federalist party
which was feared by the French. This analogy was not unfounded: in 1876, as
the Impressionists were growing in importance and winning acceptance for
their desire to render all colours (and sounds) legitimate in a perpetually
changing universe, a group of Intransigeants in Paris the radicals took 36
seats in the Chambre des Dputs. Later Laforgue drew a similar comparison
between art in which our organs are engaged in a vital struggle and society as
a symphony of the consciousness of races and individuals. The neo-
Impressionist painters were more overtly political. Signac, a staunch socialist-
anarchist, equated artistic and social revolution and hoped that harmony in art,
particularly that effected by juxtaposing contrasting colours, would be a model
for justice in society.
In more general terms, the gradual acceptance of Impressionist art reflected
the desire of the middle class to share in the old aristocracys way of life. This
gave rise to the popular definition of Impressionism as an aesthetic of
dreaming and the far away, of escape and not just from academic
conventions. Herbert suggests that Impressionist paintings, with their
emphasis on leisure activities, were agents of social change in that they
encouraged the development of vacation resorts for the middle class and
helped prop up the illusions of holiday-seekers. In music too there is a vague
sense of a desire for middle-class empowerment in composers breakdown of
tonal hierarchies, incorporation of distant overtones and expanded notion of
consonance. Charpentier, who like Debussy was of working-class origins, was
among the few to give voice to working-class values and sensations, but it is
his Pomes mystiques, settings of symbolist poems, more than his opera
Louise, that shares in the Impressionist aesthetic. Debussy, by contrast, allied
himself with upper-class patrons more than anarchists, and Fleury points out
that both he and Delius were more aristocratic than anarchic by nature. Many
of Debussys innovations reflect an attempt to create a specifically French
musical style by appropriating materials from earlier times (for example,
medieval organum or 16th-century counterpoint).
After 1904, with increasing attempts to debunk Impressionist values, these
socio-political associations became even more blatant, especially as they
related to music. Those defending the aesthetic argued that the emphasis on
vibrations would bring forth new forms of vitality in listeners and aid in the
countrys regeneration and repopulation. Others, focussing on issues of class,
countered that the nuanced multiplicity of colours and imprecise forms of
Impressionist art and music weakened the perceivers sensibility by
undermining hierarchical thinking and the aristocratic language of lines. As
critics advocated a return to classical order, the science of composition and
life in all the arts, some redefined Czannes painting and Debussys music,
shifting emphasis on to their abstract qualities. Debussys style too changed
after 1904 as melody and counterpoint became more important to him and his
musical forms became more complex.
4. Neo-Impressionism and post-
Impressionism.
It is at this point that one should speak of the emergence of musical post-
Impressionism, for in its embrace of line, colour and form from another
perspective, and constructions that bring pleasure to the mind as well as the
senses, this aesthetic resembles that of post-Impressionist painters like
Gauguin and Matisse. Stravinskys Rite of Spring perhaps best exemplifies this
tendency in music. In one sense it extends the Impressionist notion of sound
for its own sake; in another, as Jacques Rivire put it, The Rite rejects the
sauce of its predecessors music, with its language of nuance and transitions,
in favour of larger-scale juxtapositions of violent emotions, brutal rhythms,
robust colours and a more advanced harmonic language that includes
polytonality. Both aspects of post-Impressionism laid the foundation for a
Franco-Russian form of modernism. Respighi in Italy, Schmitt and Dukas in
France, and Bax and Holst in Great Britain also represent this duality, in
different ways. Perhaps only Satie, among French composers of the time,
rejected Impressionism completely. With humour and irony he attempted to rid
music of its literary and painterly associations, setting the stage for the neo-
classicism of the 1920s.
During this period and after Debussys death in 1918 a large number and wide
variety of composers, some of them falsely called post-Impressionists,
continued to use Impressionist techniques, albeit sporadically. Among others,
in England there were Delius, Vaughan Williams, Scott, Bridge and Ireland; in
France, Koechlin, Aubert, Louis Vuillemin, Ropartz, Roger-Ducasse,
Ladmirault, Caplet, Lili Boulanger and later Messiaen; in Hungary, Bartk and
Kodly; in Poland, Szymanowski; in Italy, Malipiero and Puccini; and in the
USA, Griffes. Even at the Schola Cantorum, a Parisian school which inculcated
different ideals, Impressionism made an impact on composers. Roussel,
Albniz and Le Flem reconciled the harmonic freedom and timbral nuances of
Impressionist music with the solid construction, linear clarity and rigorous logic
demanded by dIndy and his followers. Ravel, who Landormy claims helped
discredit Impressionism through his embrace of classical forms, continued to
use Impressionist approaches to harmony and timbre even after his style
changed around 1908. For a time the aesthetic even appealed to Schoenberg:
although the emotional content of Gurrelieder is Expressionist meaning that
its form and language are subordinated to an inner resonance in the composer
its mystical concept of nature is altogether Impressionist.
Despite the pejorative connotations they have acquired since the 1920s
(association with vague lines and structure, a style that lacks vitality), and
revisionist notions of Debussy in the 1970s as a symbolist by scholars and as a
modernist by composers, the Impressionist and neo-Impressionist aesthetics
continue to exercise an important influence on music, especially in French- and
English-speaking countries. Other traditions have found it fairly easy to assimilate
certain elements of Impressionism because of its formal freedom and openness
to non-Western philosophies of sound and music. In jazz Impressionism has
permeated the harmonies of Duke Ellington, the orchestral textures of Gil Evans,
and the piano styles of Art Tatum and Cecil Taylor. In the film music of Korngold,
Herrmann and their followers it has affected audiences perceptions of images on
the screen. In Japan Takemitsu incorporated elements of Impressionism to
infuse his music with Western nuances. In the USA Glass and Reich used
simple, repeated Impressionist-like figurations, albeit in the service of another
aesthetic, to slow down time in their early minimalist music. More recently a
generation of French composers born in the mid-1940s Grisey, Murail, Dufourt
and others have returned to the Impressionist notion of sound as an object of
research. Using the computer to study the nature of timbre with scientific
precision, they have also renewed attention to harmony as a factor of timbre, and
composed spectral music based on contrasts of registers, speeds and
intensities. Misunderstanding of the term Impressionism has thus never kept
musicians from the music itself, and in borrowing from various times, places and
cultures, the aesthetic can be seen as a precursor to the cross-culturalism of
what is marketed as World beat and other contemporary musics.

The impressionist movement in music was a movement in
European classical music, mainly in France, that began in the late
nineteenth century and continued into the middle of the
twentieth century. Like its precursor in the visual arts, musical
Impressionism focused on suggestion and atmosphere rather than
strong emotion or the depiction of a story as in program music.
Musical Impressionism occurred as a reaction to the excesses of
the Romantic era. While this era was characterized by a dramatic
use of the major and minor scale system, Impressionist music
tends to make more use of dissonance and more uncommon
scales such as the whole tone scale. Romantic composers also
used long forms of music such as the symphony and concerto,
while Impressionist composers favored short forms such as the
nocturne, arabesque, and prelude.
Musical Impressionism was based in France, and the French
composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are generally
considered to be the two "great" Impressionists. However,
composers are generally not as accurately described by the term
"Impressionism" as painters in the genre are. Debussy renounced
it, saying, "I am trying to do 'something different' in a way
realities what the imbeciles call 'impressionism' is a term which
is as poorly used as possible, particularly by art critics."[1] Maurice
Ravel composed many other pieces that aren't identified as
Impressionist. Nonetheless, the term is widely used today to
describe the music seen as a reaction to 19th century
Romanticism.
Many musical instructions in impressionist pieces are written in
French, as opposed to Italian.
Impressionism also gained a foothold in England, where its traits
were assimilated by composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams,
Arnold Bax, and Frederick Delius. Vaughan Williams in particular
exhibited music infused with Impressionistic gestures--this was
not coincidence, as he was a student of Maurice Ravel. Vaughan
Williams' music utilizes melodies and harmonies found in English
folk music, such as the pentatonic scale and modes, making it
perfectly suited to the polarity-breaking ideals of the
Impressionist movement, which began moving away from the
Major-minor based tonality of the Romantic composers.

Impressionist composers
Besides the two great impressionist composers, Claude Debussy
and Maurice Ravel, other composers who composed in what has
been described as impressionist style include Frederick Delius,
Isaac Albniz, Enrique Granados, Erik Satie, Alexander Scriabin, Lili
Boulanger, Federico Mompou, Charles Tomlinson Griffes and
Karol Szymanowski.
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ci