Did Wagner And Debussy Hate Each Other?

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Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s topic is, “Did Wagner And Debussy Hate Each Other?” You may have heard about the rivalry and the distaste they had for one another. You can read about that. What I’m going to do is show you musically something quite extraordinary. Debussy mocked Wagner in his music and you can hear elements of humor where it’s least expected and most inappropriate, in Wagner’s famous Tristan theme from, Tristan and Isolde, one of the most deadly serious motifs and chord changes. The whole opera is built upon this chord progression.

Golliwog’s Cakewalk is a piece of Debussy that makes reference to Wagner’s Tristan theme.

But in a totally mocking way that you have to hear to believe! A cakewalk is a dance form. But what happens in the middle? If you listen to the familiar theme and how he pokes fun at it musically, it is an incredibly disrespectful use of Wagner’s music!

Stylistically, Debussy branched into a whole new type of music known as Impressionism, radically different from the deep emotional romanticism of Wagner.


They didn’t appreciate each other. I’d love to hear from all of you about your opinions of this and you are welcome to listen to the accompanying video example.

I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. There are lots of videos to come. We welcome your suggestions for future videos. We’ll see you next time!