Claude Debussy

Children's Corner, suite for piano (or orchestra), L. 119 (113)

    Description by Rovi Staff

    Children's Corner was written for Debussy's three-year-old daughter, Claude-Emma (nicknamed "Chou-Chou"), and bears the following dedication: "to my dear Chou-Chou, with the tender apologies of her father for what is to follow." The composer's sentiments were presumably an acknowledgement of the inevitable loss of innocence that comes with growing up, but his words take on a darker, more prophetic, hue in hindsight -- Claude-Emma died from diphtheria only a year after Debussy's own death from cancer in 1918.

    Though ostensibly children's pieces, the miniatures that make up Children's Corner are not meant for children to play; rather they are meant to evoke the mood and essence of childhood, and the fantasies of youth. The titles, all of them in English, reflect not only the rampant anglophilia in Paris at the time of composition (and Debussy's own affection for England), but also Chou-Chou's relationship with her English nanny, who helped to choose them. The set, as a whole, captures the particular charm of Debussy's piano music, in spirit if not in style. It possesses great humor and lightness, real beauty, and deceptive technical difficulties.

    The first movement, "Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum," is a light-hearted reference to Muzio Clementi's well-known piano exercises, Gradus ad Parnassum, published in 1817. It parodies a child performing these exercises, initially tearing through the bright, fast passages and eventually becoming distracted, bored, and finally slamming down the final cadence with relief. This movement looks forward to Debussy's later Études, in which he lampoons the five-finger exercises of Carl Czerny. The second movement is about a toy elephant, and is called "Jimbo's Lullaby"; the ponderous gait of the elephant and the lightness of its stuffing are illustrated in whole-tone harmony. The third movement "Serenade for the Doll" is a quick, dance-like song for a little girl's favorite toy, while "Snow is Dancing" gives us a picture of falling ice crystals.

    "The Little Shepherd" tells a story of a young shepherd, playing his pipe, dancing around the meadow, resting by a tree, and finally falling asleep. The last movement, "Golliwogg's Cake Walk," was inspired by American ragtime music, which, considered plebeian in its native country, had taken Europe by storm. Debussy also managed a tweak at Wagner, by quoting the famous Tristan & Isolde theme, and following it with a pianistic chuckle. It's title comes from Golliwogg, a doll that was popular in Chou-Chou's day, and a popular children's game associated with the doll. The game involved walking to the music (the steps required are specific, and seeing kids perform them is adorable) and whoever looked most enthused about getting cake received a slice.

    The Children's Corner suite is certainly not characteristic of Debussy's ephemeral style -- which by now had fully developed impressionistic qualities -- however, it is a delightful work, and it showcases Debussy's ability to create unique tonal colors.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Docteur Gradus ad Parnassum. Modérément animé
    2. Berceuse des éléphants (Jumbo's Lullaby). Assez modéré
    3. Sérénade à la poupée (Serenade for the Doll). Allegretto ma non troppo
    4. La neige danse (The Snow is Dancing). Modérément animé
    5. Le petit berger (The Little Shepherd). Très modéré
    6. Golliwogg's Cakewalk. Allegro giusto

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2020
    Bridge
    BCD 9529
    2018
    Various Artists
    Menuetto Classics
    2018
    Menuetto Classics
    null
    2018
    Menuetto Classics
    null
    2018
    Warner Classics
    570940
    2018
    Musica Viva
    MV 120
    2018
    Various Artists
    Menuetto Classics
    null
    2018
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2018
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4798642
    2018
    Hyperion
    CDA 68139
    2018
    Warner Classics
    null
    2018
    Warner Classics
    null
    2018
    Arcana
    A 445
    2018
    Ondine
    ODE 13042D
    2018
    Warner Classics
    2018
    Decca
    2018
    Decca
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295886691
    2017
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4798308
    2017
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2017
    Hyperion
    CDA 68161
    2017
    Warner Classics
    0190295869199
    2016
    IBA [Idil Biret Archives] / Naxos
    8501504
    2016
    Sony Classical
    88875119792
    2016
    Aparte
    AP 111
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4796277
    2016
    Decca
    2016
    Naxos
    8573286
    2015
    SWR Music
    93337
    2015
    Gega
    GD 369
    2015
    ABC Classics
    4811742
    2015
    AAO Music
    MCRP 2666782
    2015
    Brilliant Classics
    95101BR
    2015
    IBA [Idil Biret Archives]
    8508016
    2014
    SLG Records
    2014
    Dynamic
    DYNCDS 7697
    2013
    Melodiya
    MELCD 1002063
    2013
    Decca
    4785437
    2013
    Oehms Classics
    423
    2013
    Dal Segno
    DSPRCD 039
    2012
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099970490
    2012
    Centaur Records
    CRC 3218
    2012
    Supraphon
    SU 41192
    2012
    Various Artists
    Warner Classics
    2012
    Naxos
    8509002
    2012
    Brilliant Classics
    94415
    2012
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099995591
    2012
    Chandos
    CHAN 107435
    2012
    Indesens
    IDS 41
    2012
    Various Artists
    Decca
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88691928102
    2012
    Hyperion
    CDA 67898
    2012
    Alto
    4002
    2012
    Genuin
    GEN 12229
    2012
    Praga
    DSD 350091
    2012
    MDG / Zebralution
    2012
    EMI Classics
    2012
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099963875
    2012
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4790056
    2012
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2012
    Onyx
    ONYX 4095
    2011
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099991762
    2011
    Atma / ATMA Classique
    2671
    2011
    Various Artists
    Documents
    232867
    2011
    Centaur Records
    CRC3094/95/96/97
    2011
    Regis / Regis Records
    RRC 4010
    2011
    EMI Classics
    2011
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099990721
    2011
    Various Artists
    Sony Classical
    88697832822
    2011
    Berlin Classics / Edel Music
    0300259 BC
    2011
    Various Artists
    Warner Classics
    256467923
    2011
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099902831428
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099964850
    2010
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099968582
    2010
    EMI Classics
    6483272
    2010
    Indie Pool
    073017
    2010
    AAO Music
    2010
    Denon Records
    2010
    Naxos
    857807778
    2010
    Musicus
    1008
    2010
    Vox
    3032
    2010
    Various Artists
    Polystar
    2010
    Alba
    280
    2010
    Warner Classics
    2009
    Tudor Records
    731
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Warner Classics
    2009
    Virgin Classics
    5099969947
    2009
    Harmonia Mundi
    2908209
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Cambria
    1193
    2009
    Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2009
    Decca
    4781111
    2009
    Decca
    2008
    EMI Classics
    217304
    2008
    Cala Records
    548
    2008
    Various Artists
    Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2008
    Chandos
    CHAN10467
    2008
    Sony Classical
    53111
    2008
    EMI Classics
    2008
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099950027
    2008
    Apex
    2008
    Triton
    00043
    2008
    Naxos
    8570759
    2008
    Camerata Records
    28135
    2008
    EMI Music Distribution
    5627982
    2008
    Brilliant Classics
    93845
    2008
    Brilliant Classics
    8895
    2008
    Centaur Records
    2913
    2008
    Blue Griffin Recording
    169
    2008
    Various Artists
    Warner Classics & Jazz
    2564 695498
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    449438
    2008
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4776656
    2007
    Aura Music
    223042
    2007
    ATMA Classique
    2377
    2007
    Regis Records
    1063
    2007
    Onyx
    ONYX 4018
    2007
    Various Artists
    Amado Classics
    4000
    2007
    BBC Legends / BBC Music
    42032
    2007
    Summit Records
    471
    2007
    Erato
    284668
    2007
    MDG
    6190658
    2007
    Various Artists
    Union Square Music
    46
    2007
    Universal Classics & Jazz
    2007
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4776626
    2007
    X5 Music Group
    21289
    2006
    Chandos
    2024
    2006
    Harmonia Mundi
    901893
    2006
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    0946365240
    2006
    Philips
    4757301
    2006
    Bridge
    9186
    2006
    Delos
    3250
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000743502
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000764972
    2006
    Edel Records
    2822
    2005
    Rca Red Seal
    184595
    2005
    Arts Music
    47840
    2005
    Brilliant
    92765
    2004
    Denon Records / Radiance/SLG
    17340
    2004
    Brilliant
    92304
    2004
    ASV
    695
    2004
    EMI Music Distribution
    85990
    2004
    Decca
    000213002
    2004
    Arts Music
    47578
    2004
    AAO Music / United Audio Entertai
    6508
    2004
    ASV / Sanctuary
    402
    2004
    Ivory Records
    73006
    2004
    Denon Records
    17381
    2004
    EMI Music Distribution
    62800
    2003
    Dal Segno
    001
    2003
    Chandos
    10144
    2003
    Sony Classical
    87278
    2003
    Tall Poppies
    165
    2003
    BIS
    1205
    2003
    Virgin
    562261-2
    2003
    ATMA Classique
    22266
    2003
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000001602
    2002
    APR (Appian)
    5571
    2002
    EMI Music Distribution
    5 75526-2
    2002
    Philips Classics
    468193
    2002
    Naïve
    V 1001
    2002
    Various Artists
    Deutsche Grammophon
    472404
    2002
    Aura Classics
    2002
    2001
    Royal Classics
    700962
    2001
    Classica d'Oro
    3024
    2001
    Ottavo
    OTR-59970
    2001
    Chandos
    CHAN 9912
    2001
    Disques Pierre Verany
    700018
    2001
    Unesco
    707142
    2001
    ASV
    2129
    2000
    Rca Red Seal
    902668995
    2000
    Aura Classics
    0225
    2000
    Novalis
    150134
    2000
    Pierian
    0001
    2000
    Virgin
    61197
    2000
    Cala Records
    1024
    2000
    Decca
    460 247-2DH2
    2000
    Priory Records
    690
    2000
    Rivoalto
    9924
    2000
    VAI Audio
    1043
    2000
    Fleur de Son
    57937
    1999
    Various Artists
    Decca
    458595
    1999
    ASV
    506
    1999
    Meridian Records
    84379
    1999
    Helicon Records
    1029
    1999
    Arcana
    62
    1999
    Philips
    456 985-2PM2
    1999
    Philips
    454987
    1999
    Al Segno
    2006
    1999
    Harmonia Mundi
    290888
    1998
    Harmonia Mundi
    7901504
    1998
    Deutsche Grammophon
    459033
    1998
    EMI Music Distribution
    72673
    1998
    Virgin
    61421
    1998
    Deutsche Grammophon
    459 069-2GCC12
    1998
    Digital Sound
    1037
    1998
    RCA Red Seal
    902668442
    1997
    Berlin Classics
    0021272
    1997
    Nimbus Records
    1773
    1997
    Quicksilva
    432
    1997
    EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics
    7243565855
    1997
    Various Artists
    Capitol / EMI Music Distribution
    66230
    1997
    Various Artists
    Teldec
    0630-12361-2
    1997
    Upbeat
    132
    1997
    Biddulph Recordings
    021
    1997
    Eclipse Records
    268849
    1997
    Opening Day Recordings
    9309
    1996
    Chandos
    7017
    1996
    Naxos
    553291
    1996
    Denon Records
    78847
    1996
    Teldec
    0630-13148-2
    1995
    Ongaku
    024106
    1995
    Gallo
    746
    1995
    London
    444386
    1995
    Marco Polo
    223751
    1995
    ZYX Music
    4029
    1995
    Globe Records
    5144
    1995
    Chandos
    7019
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    445 547-2GMA
    1995
    Deutsche Grammophon
    1995
    BIS
    28
    1995
    APR (Appian)
    7025
    1995
    Hyperion
    44061
    1995
    VAI Audio
    1117
    1994
    Harmonia Mundi
    1903006
    1994
    Philips
    438718
    1994
    Decca
    1994
    London
    443021
    1994
    Astree
    8531
    1994
    Naxos
    550885
    1994
    VAI Audio
    1048
    1992
    Cala Records
    1002
    1992
    Sony Music Distribution
    48174
    1992
    Nimbus
    5161
    1992
    Vox
    5063
    1992
    Harmonia Mundi
    190954
    1992
    Nonesuch
    79160
    1990
    Deutsche Grammophon
    415372
    1986
    Decca
    Testament
    1236
    CBS Records
    37792
    Fonit-Cetra Italia
    126
    Naxos
    565004
    Ades
    20295
    Denon Records
    73804
    EMI Music Distribution
    66067
    Biddulph Recordings
    006
    Brilliant
    92765/3
    Hommage
    7001851
    Denon Records
    7372
    Amado Classics
    04011
    Emi
    69589
    Apex
    40649
    Masters of the Millennium
    2011
    BBC Music Magazine
    209
    Denon Records
    5193633
    EMI Music Distribution
    47374
    Harmonia Mundi
    901504
    Digital Concerto
    685
    EXT
    3020
    Erato
    94827
    i protagonisti
    10014/15/16
    Discover International
    920169
    No Labels
    Various Artists
    All Russia
    Supraphon
    111845
    Panton Records
    811282
    Hommage
    7001850
    Carriere Classics
    8
    Saga Classics
    3377
    Miyuki Otani
    Pickwick
    1132
    Stradivarius
    10014
    Appassionato
    999101