For years, I’ve associated the month of May with Debussy’s “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.”
I learned this two-page piano piece in the ninth grade. Like any musician, I remember certain lessons in the context of the piece that taught it to me. For instance, I remember the Chopin nocturne that taught me to play three beats against four and I remember the etude that taught me that you don’t have to play as fast as you can—that was Debussy, too.
“The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” taught me about the depth of beauty that lies just after the bright-eyed ambition deflates—when newness has worn off, but before cynicism shows up. This is how May feels. In the scope of a year, May begins the second third, spring is in motion, and things have settled without becoming stale. The brand of beauty in Debussy’s piece identifies that feeling May gives me.
Have a listen. The intoxicating chord is at 1:47.