Debussy – Das Klavierwerk vol 1


A huge collection of solo piano works from Claude Debussy, performed by American-French pianist Noël Lee. Between these works there are a lot of well knowns, but one of these I found interesting: a short piece called Le petit nègre. In these times of cancellations and wokeism, I am wondering about this little piece.

Le petit nègre is referring to the American minstrel shows, popular in the nineteenth century. In these shows white men were performing with blackface make-up, acting they were African-American musicians. They were acting up the racial stereotypes, making a comedy. Debussy created the atmosphere of these shows by using jazz rhythms and ‘cakewalk‘. The cakewalk is a dance developed from the dancing contests for slaves on plantations, where the prize for the best dancer was a cake. These dances became part of the minstrel shows near the end of the nineteenth century.

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