Debussy’s Toy Stories

The Toy Box in San Francisco (Biblioth`eque nationale deFrance)

The Toy Box in San Francisco (Biblioth`eque nationale deFrance)

By Simon Morrison

When and where was Claude Debussy’s The Toy Box premiered? Completed in piano score in 1913, the ballet went on tour under the original French title La Boıˆte a` joujoux, the Russian Yashchik s igrushkami, and the Swedish Leksaksladan ˚ . The preferred American title, The Toy Box, was changed by the English to The Toy Shop. In any language, Debussy wanted the ballet to entertain children, and even imagined children performing it. Puppets too. But once the orchestration was finished and adults got involved, things became complicated.