December 22 – Debussy ‘Faun’, Telstar and Joe Meek


Debussy 1908

Paris premiere one of French composer Debussy‘s most famous works, the tone poem Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.

An example of impressionist music — associated with Debussy and Ravel (and Satie composed at the same time) — it’s quiet, dreamy, fantastic. Inspired by French poet Stephane Mallarme, it’s been called ‘a turning point in the history of music’. Today we might call it ambient music.

Another Debussy favorite, Claire de Lune for piano, was written in 1889 but not published until 1903. Animation  It’s based in poems in Paul Verlaine‘s 1869 Fetes Galantes (he was 25), and is the 3rd of 4 movements of Suite bergamasque.


British producer Joe Meek‘s (and Billy Fury) backing band The Tornados get themselves a rare instrumental (US,UK,IE,BE,ZA)#1 with Meek’s fantastic Telstar novelty song.

The song’s named after the satellite which had orbited in July. It makes them the first Brit band single to top the US charts. It features the only clavioline (*) on a #1 record, and is early with added sound FX.

Tacoma‘s The Ventures quickly follow with a lead-track cover on their Jan. 1963 album The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull. Meek soon releases a version with a vocal, ‘Magic Star’, sung by Kenny Hollywood.

Meek is the subject of 2009 film Telstar:The Joe Meek Story(*) and 2008 documentary A Life in the Death of Joe Meek.

▷Robb Huxley remembers▹