Debussy Golliwogg's Cakewalk

Debussy Golliwogg's Cakewalk

Music Description

Children’s Corner (L. 113) is a six-movement suite for solo piano by Claude Debussy. It was published by Durand in 1908, and was given its world première in Paris by Harold Bauer on 18 December that year. In 1911, an orchestration of the work by Debussy’s friend André Caplet received its première and was subsequently published. A typical performance of the suite lasts roughly 15 minutes.

It is dedicated to Debussy’s daughter, Claude-Emma (known as “Chou-Chou”), who was three years old at the time.[1] The pieces are not intended to be played by children; rather they are meant to be evocative of childhood and some of the toys in Claude-Emma’s toy collection.

At the time of its composition, Golliwoggs were in fashion, due partly to the popularity at that time of the novels of Florence Kate Upton (“golliwog” is a later usage). The cakewalk was a dance or a strut and the dancer with the most elaborate steps won a cake (“took the cake”). The B section of this dance is interrupted on several occasions by the love-death leitmotif of Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde, marked avec une grande émotion (with great feeling).

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