This essay focuses on Claude Debussy's opinions, voiced in his written texts and letters after 1903, about issues of musical heritage. Debussy criticized contemporary French music for a lack of national character and for drawing heavily upon German and Italian influences. Through an unequivocal rejection of 19th-century music and of the romantic heritage, particularly with respect to Wagner and Wagnerism, Debussy advocated a return to the French national tradition, embodied by the 18th century and particularly the works of Jean-Baptiste Rameau. He also encouraged a creative approach to the French musical heritage; he was convinced of the necessity of revitalizing French music in its traditional, Gallic spirit. Typical of France's distinctive turn-of-the-century intellectual climate, opinions and declarations on the national musical tradition occur in Debussy's writings between 1902 and 1917. The composer's nationalist notion of musical tradition was voiced e.g. in 1910, when he called himself a 'nationalist-traditionalist'. Yet Debussy remained an independent thinker. He unequivocally rejected the cult of Wagner so vivid in late 19th- century France, always arguing instead for the musical past and the inspiration of the heritage of two great masters: Bach and Rameau.