Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: French

First Advisor

Professor Karen Humphreys


Throughout the nineteenth century in Paris, various philosophers, authors, musicians, and other thinkers often met together in Montmartre to discuss their innovative ideas. These artists worked in an unorthodox atmosphere and defied the expectations of artistic conventions. In this Bohemian atmosphere, composers freely experimented with harmonies, rhythms, scales, and instrumental color that had never been heard before. This eventually led to the development of Impressionist Music. Composers such as Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, and Maurice Ravel led this new musical movement. Some of them collaborated and were inspired by other artists of the century. For example, Debussy worked closely with the poet Stéphane Mallarmé and translated some of his poems into musical works. The most famous of these is Mallarmé’s poem “L'Après Midi d’un Faune” (Afternoon of a Faun) and Debussy’s musical prelude with the same title. My thesis discusses the techniques used by all of these artists and the fact that they were all connected through a background of working in the cabarets and cafés in Montmartre. I set out to prove that the ideals and atmosphere of the Bohemian life in this neighborhood inspired the composers of impressionist music to develop their talent and creativity without limits, and that ultimately contributed to their reputations as serious composers in France and throughout the world.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in French.