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In 1884, when he was in his twenty-second year, his cantata, l'Enfant prodigue, won for him the Prix de Rome by a majority of twenty-two out of twenty-eight votes it is said to have been the unanimous opinion of the jury that the score was "one of the most interesting that had been heard at the Institut for years." While at the Villa Médicis he composed, in 1887, his Printemps for chorus and orchestra, and, in the following year, his setting of Rossetti's "Blessed Damozel," of which the authorities at the Conservatory saw fit to disapprove because of certain liberties which Debussy even then was taking with established and revered traditions. He performed his military service upon his return from Rome; and there is a tradition told, as bearing upon his love of recondite sonorities, to the effect that while at Évreux he delighted in the harmonic clash caused by the simultaneous sounding of the trumpet call for the extinguishing of lights and the sustained vibrations of some neighboring convent bells. From this time forward his output was persistent and moderately copious. To the year 1888 belong, in addition to La Demoiselle Élue, the remarkably individual "Ariettes," six settings for voice and piano of poems by Verlaine. To 1889-1890 belong the Fantaisie for piano and orchestra and the striking "Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire" (Le Balcon, Harmonie du Soir, Le Jet d'Eau, Recueillement, La Mort des Amants). In 1891 came some less significant piano pieces; but the following two years were richly productive, for they brought forth the exquisite Prélude