Debussy: "La Boîte à joujoux", performed by Alain Planès

Pianist Alain Planès performs Debussy's ballet for children La Boîte à joujoux. Recorded on 11 March 2018 at the Radio France Auditorium (Paris).

Auditorium Radio France

Ever since the birth of his daughter, his "Chouchou", Debussy was increasingly fascinated by the idea of youth and childhood. He therefore glady accepted to composer the music for a ballet inspired by La Boîte à Joujoux, originally a book for children written and illustrated by the artist André Hellé.

The work's story takes place in a toy box. It is separated into four stories, with a Prelude and an Epilogue. In the first tableau, Le magasin de jouets, a soldier falls in love with a beautiful doll, un soldat s’éprend d’une jolie poupée, unfortunately already promised to one of the more aggressive polichinelle puppets. Thus follows a war between the polichinelle puppets and the soldiers, during which our hero is wounded, and nursed by the doll. After Le champs de bataille, the third tableau entitled La bergerie à vendre depicts the growing love between the soldier and the doll. The final scene, Après fortune faite, is set many years after and shows the two characters happily married and parents.

Debussy initially composed a version of La Boîte à Joujoux for piano. He only began orchestrating the work in the spring of 1914, and though much of it was completed by 1917, it was not until 1919 that the orchestration was finally completed by composer André Caplet, one year after the death of Debussy.