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Claude Debussy's Children's Corner

Classical Academy | Composers

It often happens that some classical works have stories behind them, particularly when composers responsd to the events taking place in their private lives in their music. The Children's Corner suite is one such piece, written by late-Romantic French composer Claude Debussy.


Debussy led a turbulent love life. After a string of romantic liaisons and affairs, he married the fashion model Rosalie Texier in 1899. Becoming increasingly frustrated with her lack of affinity for music, when Debussy met the sophisticated conversationlist and accomplished singer Emma Bardac in 1904 it seems inevitable that he fell for her charms. Bardac, however, was married to a Parisian banker and her son was one of Debussy's students.



Returning from a secret romantic getaway in Jersey with his new love, Debussy wrote to Texier to tell her their marriage was over. Texier, devastated, attempted suicide a few months later, the scandal from which forced Debussy and Bardac to flee to England. After spending time in Eastbourne and London, divorcing Texier in the interim, the couple returned to Paris to set up home on Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, where Debussy's only daughter Claude-Emma was born. 'Chouchou' to her parents, Debussy dedicated his Children's Corner to his little princess.


Listen to pieces from the Children's Corner suite including the delightful Golliwog's Cakewalk in this recording of Debussy's works for piano performed by Ronan O'Hora.


Read about the passion of Ralph Vaughan-Williams for his lover Ursual Wood in our featured article or explore more works by composers in love.