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Claude Debussy (1862-1918)Arranged by Nancy Nourse
from Children's Corner
In 1908, fourteen years after composing L'apres midi d-un faune, Debussy completed the piano suite, Children's Corner, which was dedicated to his daughter, "Chouchou". The sixth and final movement, Golliwog's Cakewalk, is a delightfully clever miniature that demonstrates Debussy's recognition of two major trends in late nineteenth century music. The obvious one is Debussy's use of the innovative ragtime rhythms of American culture. This was one of the first western art compositions to utilise the popular dance styles of the day. Much less evident however, is the "tribute" to Wagner.
In his earlier years, Debussy studied the music of Wagner with great admiration. However later (through the influence of Erik Satie) he began to rebel against the large forms and excessive emotionalism of this musical style that had dominated contemporary Europe. It is with tongue in cheek, that Debussy inserted a melodic quotation from Wagner's opera, Tristan and Isolde in a simple and thinly textured setting, so unlike Wagner's original.