Claude Debussy and the Piano

Join WQXR for this special program at 6 pm Aug. 20-24

Monday, August 20, 2012

Claude Debussy was born 150 years ago this month. To mark the occasion, WQXR is presenting a week of programs dedicated to Debussy’s works for piano hosted by David Dubal.

The works Debussy created for the piano demonstrate all the qualities that make him one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. The pieces are, by turns, iconoclastic, playful, challenging and accessible.

Each day at 6 pm from Aug. 20-24, join Dubal, a distinguished pianist, author and teacher at Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music, as he interweaves snippets from Debussy’s letters with observations about the artists who have brought the music to life over the years. Dubal also offers comparative performances of Debussy’s composition, showing how each soloist infuses the music with something new.

Program details (Audio & Playlists):

Monday, Aug. 20: Highlights include a vintage recording of Debussy playing from the “Children’s Corner Suite,” an explanation of why Debussy wasn’t a fan of Beethoven, and an exploration on how France and French culture influenced his aesthetic.

Tuesday, Aug. 21: Highlights include exploration of Debussy’s piano music that deals with pictures of the natural world, and Dubal also reveals Debussy was a man of difficult ways.

Wednesday, Aug. 22: Highlights include performances of Debussy’s piano music, and a comparative performance of “The Dance of Puck” with a performance by the composer.

Thursday, Aug. 23: Highlights include an examination of the composer’s life through his correspondences with patrons and colleagues.

Friday, Aug. 24: Highlights include a deep dive into the personal life of the composer during the period spent composing his greatest works.

Hosted by:

David Dubal


More in:

Comments [61]

Silversalty from Brooklyn

What a pleasure to listen to Mr. Dubal. His voice is captivating. I think only Nimet on WQXR surpasses Dubal in the quality of voice to capture attention. Years ago I heard a talk by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross on "Death and Dying" and she had that quality to capture attention with her voice alone. This is the quality I refer to in speakers. Mr. Dubal projects his love for and fascination with the music he presents - and that quality is infectious. There's a "host" on "the Q" that often sounds bored with the material presented. Is there a bigger turn off than the presenter seeming bored with what's presented?

Also, much of this material is rarely heard on WQXR and so avoids the over saturation that sometimes pervades the music played. Wagner up the vahzoo. Ringworm.

A superb series by a superb educator.

Wise move to extend the cut off date for listening.

Sep. 15 2012 01:35 PM
Paul Kolnik

David Dubal is sorely missed by those of us that yearn for his imaginative witty and intelligent shows.
Please, please bring him back for good.

Sep. 04 2012 10:21 AM
Silversalty from .Brooklyn

It's nice that Mr. Dubal gets a back stairway link to a "people" page, which will likely disappear when this page drifts off into the web's bit bucket. But if Ms. Suzanne Vega gets a listing on the "Hosts" page then Mr. Dubal certainly deserves one too.

Sep. 02 2012 09:26 PM
Ginger B.

What a delight it was to hear David Dubal again. I have sorely missed his program. Please, please bring him back to QXR.

Sep. 01 2012 04:16 PM
Hyperion Knight from New York

It was such a pleasure to hear David Dubal on WQXR again. His wonderful tribute to Debussy brought the whole magical world of impressionist pianism to life. I know I speak for many when I express my hope that Mr. Dubal will once again be a regular contributor to your programming!

Aug. 31 2012 12:27 PM
Marvin Flohr from Bradley Beach, NJ

My favorite composer. What a delight!!

Aug. 30 2012 04:21 PM
Fred Williams from NYC

It was a great series of programs; I found myself sitting at the radio, not wanting to miss a word or a note. It would be a step in the right direction if you could bring his program back. I too, wouldn't mind the return of First Hearing either.

Aug. 28 2012 07:34 PM
Tony from New York City

When David Dubal was a regular on QXR, I rarely missed an episode. His dismissal from the station puzzles me. In his absence QXR gives us only pabulum for commentary, smiling voices and mispronounced names and titles, the rip-and-read school of classical radio announcing. I don't think many people care for your announcers' chit-chat about the weather and their weekend plans. David Dubal was a first-rate commentator, a real classical music educator. Too rich and intense for QXR?

Aug. 27 2012 08:36 PM
dora from NJ

This a little taste of David Dubal is a treat. But I really miss his Wed night "reflection from the keyboard". It's a shame WQXR could not keep his program.

Aug. 27 2012 07:45 PM
noochinator from Brockton, MA

For Dubal fans, there are 150 of his "A Musical Offering" programs from 1976 at the below link:

Aug. 27 2012 06:48 AM
Eileen Pollock from Second to the Right and then Straight on Til Morning

I meant I wish he were on LATER! But not too late.

Aug. 26 2012 06:24 PM
Eileen Pollock from New York, NY

Glad to see Mr. D is back at last. Wish he were on earlier when those of us who work at (gasp!) office jobs could hear him. Hope he returns to WQXR soon. Disregarding all the ephemera, he is a unique talent, and responsible for shaping my musical taste.

Aug. 26 2012 06:22 PM
John Welch from New York City

David, I listened to your daily walk through the Beethoven sonatas...about 35 years ago on WNCN. I was working nights, driving a taxi, and I would wait for your Beethoven every morning.

What a delight to hear you give us Debussy! This time, I've set my drive home so I can listen.

Aug. 25 2012 04:40 PM
George Bennett

Bravo ,,,,

Aug. 25 2012 07:47 AM
Abbé from Scottsdale, AZ


You changed my life on Monday, 8-20. I was captivated by your commentary on Debussy! You are truly an inspiration and have reignited my love for classical music. I plan on sharing you with the world. Thank you!

Aug. 25 2012 03:39 AM

Thanks to all the commenters who posted links! And thanks to David Dubal for being... David Dubal!

Aug. 24 2012 11:36 PM
catherine marcial from Newark

It was lovely hearing David Dubal again. I have missed his weekly broadcasts "reflections from the keyboard" sorely. He has a real passion for his subject, and a poet's expressiveness and so to teach people about the subtleties of music. I hope that Mr. Dubal will continue to appear on the station.

Aug. 24 2012 10:48 PM
Dr Jerry W

What a difference! David Dubal back on WQXR adds class, erudition, inspiration, and sheer joy. I have so missed hearing his voice- thank you for transforming my week.

Aug. 24 2012 10:39 PM
David PR Bailin from Morristown, NJ

I still listen to the new WQXR BUT will not support it financially until you restore David Dubal on a REGULAR basis. His Piano in Comparative Performance program on Thursday evenings was the highlight of my week. I eschew Bill McGlaukin as a substitute. If you want my $ support, restore him. Instead I give my $ instead to WWFM which is difficult to hear but has David Dubal as a feature.


Aug. 24 2012 06:39 PM
Robert Preston

It's so great to hear David Dubal again on WQXR after a too-long hiatus. His insights and musical erudtion are a breath of fresh air for your station and all intreseted listeners. When "Reflections from the Keyboard" disappeared, it became a deep void in serious classical programming, especially programs with conversational depth rather than just jacket-cover introductions. You would do well to invite him to do more series of importance, similar to the current one on Debussy. I'm sure there are pivotal points in the lives of so many keyboard composers which could serve as a basis for the continuation of these enlightening broadcasts.


Aug. 24 2012 04:22 PM
AF from Long Island


This comment repeats the information I gave in my comment here of August 17 (which can be seen below by scrolling down to that date).

David Dubal's weekly, one-hour program, "The Piano Matters" (very similar to "Reflections from the Keyboard"), can be heard Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. (repeated Sundays at noon) on New Jersey's 24/7 classical music station WWFM. Hear the program at or, if you are in the NYC area and have HD equipment, at WKCR fm 89.9 HD 2. (Some past programs are archived on WWFM's website as webcasts; another listener--Silversalty from Brooklyn--posted a link to those webcasts, which can be found below on the date of August 18).

Many thanks to WWFM, The Classical Network, for bringing this wonderful program to David's many devoted listeners! Bravo! Bravissimo!

Aug. 24 2012 01:43 AM
Barry from Millburn, NJ

Boy, are these shows wonderful. Would you consider making a CD of them one of your gifts the next time you do a fundraiser? They make me realize how much I miss his Reflections from the Keyboard. Thanks for this wonderful week.

Aug. 23 2012 08:19 PM
Stanley Waldoff

What magnificent programs these are--great playing, extremely informative commentary--the whole hour slips by as if it were 5 minutes. Dubal should have a regular program again on this station. He is sorely missed by all of us who consider music a necessity of life.

Aug. 23 2012 07:36 PM

Listening to David Dubal this week reminds how much I miss Reflections from the Keyboard, it's justgreat

Aug. 23 2012 07:18 PM
Bob Tonucci from Odenton, MD

This link goes to my 150 or so "A Musical Offering" shows Dubal did on WNCN-FM in 1976:

Aug. 23 2012 06:14 PM
Jeff from New York, NY

I've had to stay late at work many times this week, and this program made it much more bearable. Thank you for this wonderful series!

Aug. 23 2012 06:06 PM
Anne Blanken

I was delighted to hear David Dubal again. It would be wonderful to have his comparative piano program back. I enjoy listening in Virginia on my PC and leave it on for most of the day.

Aug. 23 2012 02:45 PM
tatyana from new york

Dear David-very happy to hear you again on WQXR, I missed you!

You are a great part of WQXR and a real voice of the station!!!

Welcome back!

Aug. 23 2012 10:07 AM
Neil Schnall

Thanks, Lawrence. Those links were not on the page when I asked. Glad to have it now.

Last night's program reminded me that I own the LP that includes the Oscar Levant performance that was played. It's an all-Debussy album by Levant that I haven't heard in a long time. If recorded in the 1940s, it was likely first released on 78s and later reissued on LP, the album cover for which is clearly of an early design.

Aug. 23 2012 09:52 AM
lawrence from nj

neil, the link to the individual shows are the the days of the week in the program above

Aug. 22 2012 08:56 PM
MaureenFH from Stamford

Thank you David Dubal for the Debussy birthday tribute. I love Claudio Arrau's interpretations of Debussy,

Aug. 22 2012 06:42 PM
Judy Smith from Stony Brook, NY

David Dubal's "Reflexions from the Keyboard" was the only program I ever listened to regularly. I have sorely missed him--I still have some programs on tape!--and hope he will return with a regular weekly feature.

Aug. 22 2012 04:33 PM
Neil Schnall

I believe I heard Mr. Dubal suggest that a complete playlist was available on the website. However, I am not finding a link to it either on this page or on the playlist page. On the playlist page, the program is listed, but the dropdown does not include the actual playlist for this program. Am I missing it? Is it included in some occult fashion?

Aug. 22 2012 12:44 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Let me join the chorus of those who are glad to hear David Dubal back. One of the great losses in the changeover from the commercial station (it did have its good points, not only that of a stronger signal) was the disappearance of "Reflections from the Keyboard." Let's hope this is a testing of the waters for a full return.

Aug. 22 2012 10:18 AM
George from Long Island

Thanks VERY much to all who gave the WWFM info.
I also hope that WQXR makes podcasts of this Debussy series since I've already missed one and a half of them!

Aug. 21 2012 11:03 PM
Meredith from nyc

Thanks so much to commenters for the info on Dubal's show on wwfm, etc. I'm so glad to find this out and will listen on line---I've really missed his show and was perplexed that he was gone from qxr. Thanks!

Aug. 21 2012 09:28 PM
hanching chung from Taipei, Taiwan

I like to thank WQXR and David for such wonderful programs.I kept several program notes from Reflections in 2004.

Aug. 21 2012 07:25 PM
Ronald from Oldwick NJ

Thank you WQXR for a wonderful birthday present. I've waited so long to hear David Dubal again on my favorite radio station.

Aug. 21 2012 07:01 PM
bonny bass from Pearl River,NY

So happy to hear David Dubal on the radio again. He is wonderful & we enjoy his commentary. Please keep him on the air,he does so much to add to our listening pleasure of WQXR.
Bonny & Dan

Aug. 21 2012 06:56 PM
Seb Bach from New York

I'm in awe to hear Mr Dubal back in WQXR. Please entice him to stay! He's a national treasure of the radio waves.

Aug. 21 2012 06:25 PM
Meredith from nyc

why was Dubal's 'reflections from keyboard' program discontinued? I never heard any explanation of this on air. We need more programming as interesting and enlightening as that was. What is your programming philosophy that would justify canceling it?
You should also bring back the program 'first hearing', which was a terrific program with a panel of guests reviewing new recordings of the classics.
Also why is Mad About Music cancelled? Great interviews. It appears there are no longer any archived podcasts for those i missed. Why ? That was one of your best shows. Very disappointing.
Also many would love to hear a weekly re airing of George Jellinek's shows. That's how I learned about opera.

Who is your audience? How are you going to attract and shape the tastes of future audiences without these informative, interesting discussion shows about music?

Aug. 21 2012 03:22 PM
Rae Barlow from New York City

Delighted to have Mr. Dubal back. Wonderful.

Aug. 21 2012 01:16 PM
Norma Arnold from New York

What a delight to hear David Dubal back on WNYC after a too-long absence! I have attended all of David's lectures at the Met Museum, and really enjoy listening to him. Is there any way to obtain a streaming of his show? I may miss a couple of the 6pm broadcases this week, but was hoping you'd consider posting them on the WQXR website so that those of us who may not be home by 6 can listen to them.

Thank you,

Aug. 21 2012 08:20 AM
Janet in NYC from New York, NY

so happy to hear from David Dubal again! I have missed him and his entertaining programs on this station. I regret I won't be able to hear all of these shows on Debussy this week and hope podcasts may become available for future listening.

Aug. 20 2012 10:35 PM

I hope 'QXR will post some podcasts of the series so we can catch-up on any episodes we missed. I love Dubal and Debussy and am I sorry that I'll have to miss several shows this weke.

Aug. 20 2012 09:33 PM
Juana Zayas

Hello, David,

So glad to hear that you are back on WQXR! We always enjoyed your insightful and knowledgeable comments.

All best wishes to you, David!


Aug. 20 2012 08:00 PM
Lorraine Schorr from Piermont, NY

David, there you were this evening on WQXR. What a surprise!! I have missed your uniquely informative programs which I first heard decades ago on the now defunct WNCN FM. You have a way of making history come alive. Encore!

Aug. 20 2012 07:54 PM
paula rice jackson from New York, NY

HOOORAAAAYYYY! David Dubal is back! The perfect vehicle for his re-introduction to the QWXR family, I so hope-- the De Bussey program was just wonderful. Thank you so much and pleeezzzeee Bring David HOME>
I've missed his dry wit and erudition terribly. What a wonderful Summer Surprise.
Paula Rice Jackson
President, United Nations Association of New York

Aug. 20 2012 07:04 PM
Paul from Brooklyn, NY

WQXR need more people like David Dubal. Someone who really knows music and is not just reading liner notes. David is an inspiration.

Aug. 20 2012 06:14 PM
George Jochnowitz from New York

I had never especially cared for the music of Debussy until I heard it performed by pianist Bennett Lerner. Then I came to appreciate its melody, emotion, and liveliness.
WQXR ought to play some of the music found on Bennett Lerner's recording of the complete piano works of Debussy.

Aug. 20 2012 03:54 PM
SharonG from New York

I'm glad to see David Dubal is going to be back on WQXR, but the five nights listed here are not enough. His program on comparative listening was a highlight of the station before it was sold. I hope WNYC has realized it made a mistake in discontinuing the show, and that David Dubal will once again be a regular (at least weekly) presence on WQXR.

Aug. 20 2012 02:47 PM
Raffi Momjian from old greenwich, CT

Thank you for doing a week-long series on Debussy's life and music. A recording of Zimerman's "faux d'artifice" and Egorov's "reflets dans leau" shows why he was a towering genius and a radical that we are just beginning to understand. A great artist with a supreme intellect, he was a composer's composer who wrote music like no one else before him or after him.

Aug. 20 2012 11:56 AM
Jeffrey Duban from New York City

I stopped contributing to WQXR when, in an act of supreme folly and shortsightedness, it discontinued David Dubal's "Reflections from the Keyboard." It may now be time for a change of heart, depending on how serious WQXR ultimately is about bringing "our national treasure" back into the fold.

Jeffrey Duban

Aug. 20 2012 10:16 AM
Elaine from Nanuet NY

It was wonderful to hear and read that David Dubal is giving a program for
Debusey's birthday. He has been missed by so many of us-it is good to see
him return to WQXR. Hopefully this will be a start of some new programs
for him. I,like many others, found him on "The Piano Matters" at WWFM.
Good luck to you David and welcome back.

Aug. 19 2012 04:04 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

Nice to see some mention of the Debussy series with Mr. Dubal. Now maybe you can add Dubal to the "Hosts" page with a link to his ongoing examination of excellence in classical piano on

Some of what's been missed -

Aug. 18 2012 04:43 PM
arlene from New Jersey

It's about time WQXR came to its senses. What in the world took so long to get our "national treasure" back? Fortunately I have been listening to the Piano Matters on WWFM, and now they have expanded their area of broadcast to Manhattan so all of David's formidable audience will have the opportunity to LISTEN once again.
Please allow this brilliant, witty and consummate muscian to return on a regular basis.

Thank you.

Aug. 18 2012 11:04 AM
AF from Long Island

FYI: David Dubal's regular weekly program IS on the air:

Information for those of you who wish David Dubal's "Reflections from the Keyboard" were still "on the air": David Dubal's program IS on the air, and has been for several years now. It's now called "The Piano Matters," but is very similar to the "Reflections" format.

It's on New Jersey's WWFM, The Classical Network, which can be heard in NYC(24/7)at WKCR fm 89.9 HD 2. If you don't have HD equipment, it can be heard via the internet at It's on Wednesday evenings at 10:00 p.m. (sound familiar?) and is repeated Sundays at noon. Past programs are also available as webcasts on WWFM website.

I am on Long Island with an radio tuner that gets HD (as well as fm), so I can listen to David's program and WWFM HD via my stereo system--great sound!

Aug. 17 2012 07:40 PM
George from LI from Hicksville, NY

Is there any way to legally record this series, or get a recording of it?

Aug. 17 2012 04:22 PM
Renate Perls from New York City

It has been a long time since we spoke. How good it is to have you back.
I must add that what "Winnifred" wrote goes for me, too.

Welcome. You have been sadly missed.

Renate Perls

Aug. 17 2012 04:20 PM
Joyce Feigenbaum from New York

David -

Nice to know that you will be back on the air again.

The combination of knowledge and wit makes for enjoyable

Best of luck,


Aug. 17 2012 03:22 PM
winnifred from New York City

I am delighted that we have the opportunity to listen to David Dubal once again, and for him to present Debussy's work simply makes me jump for joy. Two bits of genius in one go - brilliant!

I wish to goodness the programme "reflextions on the keyboard" would return - it was one of the most wonderful features on radio.

Thank you.

Aug. 17 2012 12:06 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR