Claude Debussy was born Achille-Claude Debussy in 1862 to parents Manuel-Achille Debussy, a shop owner, and Victorine Manoury Debussy, a seamstress. In 1870, the family moved from Paris to Cannes to escape the Franco-Prussian War. They lived with his father’s sister. At the age of 7, he started piano lessons, paid for by his aunt. His talent was soon evident and at the age of 10 he started at the Paris Conservatory, where he studied until he was 21 years old. In 1884, he won the Prix de Rome which awarded him a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts with further studying in Rome.
Debussy is known today as one of the main people behind Impressionist music. He went against the norm from the beginning of his studies, challenging styles and concepts. This continued while he was in Rome and he was chastised for his submitted pieces that explored the unusual.
In 1909, he was diagnosed with rectal cancer. One of the earliest colostomy operations was performed on him in 1915. He lived until 1918. His funeral took place in Paris while the city was being bombed by Germany during WWI. Due to that, they were unable to honour him with a full public graveside service.