This was the situation Claude Debussy faced in 1905.
So what did he do? He fled with his new love to the sea air of Eastbourne.
For the next few weeks the couple stayed in the Grand Hotel, on the seafront, where Debussy applied the finishing touches to his orchestral masterpiece La Mer.
Debussy wasn’t altogether impressed by Eastbourne’s charms, however. He wrote to a friend: “It’s a little English seaside town, as silly as these sorts of places sometimes are…too many draughts and too much music.”
But in room 200 at the Grand Hotel he found refuge – with his mistress Emma Bardac.
When the couple arrived at the hotel on 24th July they booked in as M. and Mme. Claude Debussy. Their suite had a balcony looking out to sea, and Debussy wrote to a friend he was able to “relax like an animal.” In spite of the “too much music” – the brass bands and military marches played in seafront bandstands – he was also able to work.
Debussy had met Bardac, a talented singer, two years earlier – introduced by her son Raoul who was one of Debussy’s students. Bardac had been married to a wealthy Parisian banker since she was 17. Now in her early 40s, she was cultured, elegant and lively, with auburn hair and green eyes. She had had an affair with the composer
Gabriel Fauré before she met Debussy.
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