Tune of the Day: Le petit nègre
By the first decade of the 20th century, ragtime music was already widely heard in Europe, and many of these songs were in Cakewalk rhythm. The Cakewalk dance is best described as an act of parody, in which, it is supposed, enslaved African Americans would caricature the haughty manners of their white owners. The winner would be awarded with a prize, normally in the form of a cake.
Debussy's “Le petit nègre” (or “The Little Negro”) followed the enormous popular success of his “Golliwogg's Cakewalk”, the last piece from his suite Children's Corner, and was written and published in 1909. The work was commissioned as a piano tutor called Methode de piano, edited by Theodore Lacke. The intention was to provide aspiring young pianists with a volume of pieces which were equally well calculated to afford modest technical advancement, and to provide delight and musical insight for both players and listeners alike.