DEBUSSY Claude, Children’s Corner

Dedicated to ‘my dear little Chou-Chou, with her father’s tender excuses for what follows’, Children’s Corner was written in 1908 and dedicated to his daughter Claude-Emma. However, it was never intended as a piece for children to play, and the suite was introduced to the Parisian musical public by the virtuoso pianist Harold Bauer on 18 December 1908. Aside from its technical demands, another reason why this is not really ‘children’s’ music is its sophisticated use of parody and quotation: a send–up of Clementi in the first movement, a quotation from a nursery rhyme in the second, and a wonderfully outrageous reference to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in the final Cakewalk. There’s a rather tragic postscript to the story of the dedication: Chou-Chou died aged only fourteen, a year after Debussy himself.

Nigel Simeone © 2012

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