Robert Estrin - piano expert

Did Wagner And Debussy Hate Each Other?

An interesting story behind two great composers

In this video, Robert tells you a very interesting and entertaining story involving Richard Wagner and Claude Debussy... one against the other!

Released on February 26, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to for another really interesting show. Did Wagner hate Debussy? Did Debussy hate Wagner? You may have heard about the rivalry and the distaste they had for one another and you can read up on all of that. What I'm going to do is show you musically something quite extraordinary, how Debussy mocked Wagner in his music and you're going to hear elements of humor where it's least expected and most inappropriate. In Wagner's famous Tristan theme from Tristan and Isolde, which I talked about in another video, one of the most deathly serious motifs and chord changes. It is an amazing structure that the whole opera is built upon this chord progression you're about to hear. I'm going to play it once again because in a moment I'm going to play a piece of Debussy that makes reference to this theme, but in a totally mocking way that you got to hear to believe. Once again, this is the Wagner theme from Tristan and Isolde.

Now, in Golliwog's Cakewalk, there's a middle section ... Golliwog's Cakewalk, you probably know ... And it goes on from there. Very upbeat, danceable. A cakewalk is a dance form. But what happens in the middle? Listen to the familiar theme and how he pokes fun at it. And that's where it goes back to the cakewalk. But he just had to take a poke at Wagner in the middle of this. Stylistically, Debussy branched into a whole new type of music known as impressionism, which are so radically different from the deep, emotional, romanticism of Wagner that they didn't appreciate each other. You think? I'd love to hear comments from all of you about what you've just heard. And again, I'm Robert Estrin here at, your online piano store with lots of videos to come. You can subscribe and ring the bell for more videos like this and tons of others going in all different directions. We welcome your suggestions for future videos. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Jenny Buell * VSM MEMBER * on February 28, 2020 @6:51 am PST
Very interesting and fun to hear!
Robert - host, on February 28, 2020 @9:17 am PST
The musical reference speaks volumes about how these men felt about each other's music!
Jerry Harbin * VSM MEMBER * on February 27, 2020 @6:24 am PST
Robert, you always amaze me in such an entertaining manner. Love your videos and comments.
Robert - host, on February 27, 2020 @10:06 am PST
Glad you like the videos. We have so many more in the works for you!
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