Petite Suite (Debussy)

The Petite Suite, L 65, is a suite for piano four hands by Claude Debussy. It has been transcribed many times, most notably in an orchestral version by Debussy's colleague Henri Büsser.


The suite, which was composed from 1886 to 1889,[1] was first performed on 2 February 1889 by Debussy and pianist–publisher Jacques Durand at a salon in Paris.[2] It may have been written due to a request (possibly from Durand) for a piece that would be accessible to skilled amateurs, as its simplicity is in stark contrast with the modernist works that Debussy was writing at the time.[3]


The work, which lasts about 13 minutes in performance,[4] has four movements:

  1. En bateau (Sailing): Andantino
  2. Cortège (Retinue): Moderato
  3. Menuet: Moderato
  4. Ballet: Allegro giusto

The first two movements are settings of poems from the volume Fêtes galantes by Paul Verlaine (1844–1896).[4]


The Petite Suite was orchestrated by Debussy's colleague Henri Büsser in 1907, and published by A. Durand & Fils. Büsser's transcription calls for two flutes (second doubling piccolo), two oboes (second doubling cor anglais), two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, percussion (cymbals, tambourine and triangle), harp, and strings.[4] The work has also been transcribed for clarinets, for harp, for brass band, and for chamber wind ensemble.[3][5]


  1. ^ Rowland, David (1998). The Cambridge Companion to the Piano. Cambridge Companions to Music. Cambridge University Press. pp. 173–. ISBN 978-0-521-47986-8. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  2. ^ Roger Nichols (1998). The Life of Debussy. Musical Lives. 4 (reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 56. ISBN 0521578876.
  3. ^ a b Fleming, Beth. "Program Notes". Symphony Silicon Valley. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Hiroshima, Grant. "Petite Suite". Philpedia. Los Angeles Philharmonic. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  5. ^ Gerhart, Catherine. "Annotated Bibliography of Double Wind Quintet Music". Retrieved 23 January 2014.

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