Home / Works / Jeux d’enfants (Georges Bizet)

Print content of page

Jeux d’enfants (Georges Bizet)

Date

1871

Description

1. L’Escarpolette (Rêverie, Andantino) – 2. La Toupie (Impromptu, Allegro vivo) – 3. La Poupée (Berceuse, Andantino simplice) – 4. Les Chevaux de bois (Allegro vivo) – 5. Le Volant (Fantaisie, Andantino molto) – 6. Trompette et Tambour (Marche, Allegro, mouvement de marche) – 7. Les Bulles de savon (Rondino, Allegro moderato) – 8. Les Quatre coins (Esquisse, Allegro vivo) – 9. Colin-Maillard (Nocturne, Andante non troppo quasi andantino) – 10. Saute-mouton (Caprice, Allegro molto moderato) – 11. Petit mari, petite femme (Duo, Andantino) – 12. Le Bal (Galop, Presto)

Text

Although Bizet was a remarkable pianist, he did not write a great deal for his instrument. His only work for four hands, Jeux d’enfants, is, however, one of his best-known pieces. Completed in the autumn of 1871, dedicated to “Mesdemoiselles Marguerite de Beaulieu et Fanny Gouin” (about whom nothing is known), this work originally consisted of ten numbers, Les Bulles de savon and Les Quatre coins being added just before publication. Bizet later orchestrated five of the pieces (nos. 2, 3, 6, 11 and 12) and changed their order to form the Petite Suite, premiered on 2 March 1873 under the baton of Édouard Colonne. He then removed the titles, which he deemed “too childish”. Nevertheless, this set of piano duets is closely linked to the world of childhood. When the composer completed it, he knew he was going to be a father (his son Jacques was born on 10 July 1872). Furthermore, writing about children may well have been a nod towards his marriage. He actually called his wife Geneviève “My baby” and signed his letters to her “Your baby, who loves you”! Unlike Schumann (Scènes d’enfants), he did not idealise childhood. Neither did he express its mysteries, fears and dreams, which were later to be an inspiration for Ravel (Ma Mère l’Oye). With touching candour and inventiveness, he used figuralist motifs to depict the pastimes evoked. However, he was addressing children as listeners rather than as performers. The difficulty of most of the pieces (particularly La Toupie and Le Bal), in fact, require highly competent, if not virtuoso, pianists.

    Person - 1
  • BIZET, Georges (1838-1875)
  • Theme - 1
  • Piano – À quatre mains