Dear students:

Our theme "Fin de Siècle" cannot be squeezed in a paper & pencil knowledgetest of 1,5 to 2 hours. In my opinion that would be a silly exercise.
That's the reason why we finish up this semester with a homework assignment.

Below you can find the questions for the theme Fin de Siècle and Debussy.

You are allowed to work with someone (1) else. Please provide names... :-) and hand in via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and NOT via Facebook :-).

Part of the assessment and grading is that you formulate your answers in an adequate way. Your English writing does not have to be perfect, but try at least to formulate and write decent sentences. Avoid slang, FB- and Twitter-expressions. Would be chill ;-). You know... 

Deadline: Sunday february 6 2022 23.59 hrs. 



1. Many people looked back with a feeling of melancholy on the period we know now as the Fin de Siècle. They even called it the "belle époque" (the beautiful time). In our lessons we discovered that people evaluated the Fin de Siècle in positive and negative ways.(10)

a. describe and explain the term fin de siècle (3)
b. give several examples of positive and negative evaluations in this period (4)
c. Which two important events in the history of Europe form the global boundary of this period? (3)


2. Art Nouveau becomes a very important mean of expression. (10)

a. give a description of Art Nouveau and how you can recognize it.  (2)
b. in what ways is Art Nouveau visible/perceptible in the public space of cities in Western Europe?(2)
c. what was new in Art Nouveau in comparison to established art and art forms?(2)
d. where in the city of Groningen are you remembered on this period? Attach 3 images. (2)
e. What is the Arts & Crafts movement and why is it often mentioned together with Art Nouveau? (2)


3. Symbolism started as a literary movement, of which the name was invented by Jean Moréas. (10)
a. describe the "program" of symbolism as a movement. (3)
b. name the themes which were considered important. (4)
c. give names of three important persons and their contributions. (3)


4. The following paintings have to be linked to styles/currents we discussed during our lessons:(30)

You can find them in the following zip-file:

The possible choices are:

  1. impressionism
  2. social realism
  3. realism
  4. pointillism
  5. expressionism
  6. pre-rafaelites
  7. symbolism
  8. cubism

Make your choices and give a (short) motivation by refering to essential characeristics. The name of the painter is the least important part of the answer. 

Linking (10)

Motivation (20)


5. In the opera Pelléas et Mélisande we discussed the meaning of symbols, artefacts, places/locations, words, conversations.(20)

Discuss (in short) the deeper meaning of:

  • the blindness of King Arkel
  • the two wells
  • the forest/wood and the park
  • the cave at the sea and the vaults under the castle
  • the child Yniold
  • the crown and the ring
  • the child without name

Please decribe in what way Debussy portrays/paints these symbols in notes.

6. During the lessons we made comparisons between the opera of Debussy and books and/or films (20)

Choose one of the following titles (books or films) and discuss the symbolist aspects.

  1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkien
  2. Harry Potter cycle (7!) by J.K. Rowling
  3. The Matrix trilogy
  4. Star Wars (the original trilogy)
  5. A book or film of your own choice with clear symbolist(ic) characteristics (which is more than "just" using symbols!).




1. With Isle Joyeuse we discussed form and compositional principles with Claude Debussy. These principles can be found in the following composition:(40)

Debussy Cloches a travers les feuilles Images book 2.pdf  

Spotify link: Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Answer the following questions: 

  1. Where are the points of segmentation in this composition?
  2. How are they realized (with what means)? 
  3. In what kind of form scheme does this result? Make a drawing if you like :-).
  4. Illustrate with what kind of scales Debussy works throughout this piece.
  5. In the lessons we discussed the harmonies and voiceleading by Debussy. Discuss harmony and voiceleading in regards to this composition. Remember the words of Debussy: "Strictly speaking I do nothing special, I just arrange the sounds a little bit different". 
  6. Illustrate how the principles of Golden Section and symmetry are used in this compsition. Choose a basic unit of measurement, in orde to do the calculations (can be half note or quarter note.) Pay attention at moments where the pulse remains the same but the note value changes...(12/8 and 4/4).

2. As late nineteenth century composition we discussed the Prelude from Tristan und Isolde (Wagner), Prelude, chorale et fugue (Franck). (40)

Try to link as many items from the bullet list of the web page about chromaticism, tonality and tonal relations to places in the scores.