This Russian Composer’s Music Has Become a Staple In Two American Holidays

As the Christmas season nears, I repeat this post first published a few years ago. Sometimes I will ask classical music lovers who is their favorite composer and almost always the names of Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach will come up. In fact, that is the names I would mention when asked who is my favorite.  But I was thinking, especially when I hear some ultra beautiful music composed by this Russian Romantic composer, he should be right up there near the top of the greatest list.

This composer born in Votkinsk, Russia in 1840, was a prolific composer of all genres of classical music including 7 symphonies, 11 operas, ballets, choral works, piano solo works, and chamber music. This great Russian composer also composed, in my opinion, the best concertos for piano and violin. The composer I am talking about, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. His compositions contain some of the most beautiful, melodic music ever composed.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky [May 7, 1840 – November 6, 1893]

Besides all of this great music, Tchaikovsky’s music is an American staple in two of the most important holidays in America, Independence Day and Christmas [season]. Every July 4th in America, Independence Day, the stirring “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky is played in almost every city in America before the evening ends; and there hasn’t been a Christmas season in my lifetime that has gone by with the popular ballet, “The Nutcracker”, containing Tchaikovsky’s glorious musical score, is performed at concert halls all throughout America.

What is ironic about the 1812 Overture played every Independence Day in America, it was composed having nothing to do with America.

From Wikipedia on the 1812 Overture: “Tchaikovsky’s friend and mentor Nikolai Rubenstein suggested that he [Tchaikovsky] write a grand commemorative piece [in honor of Russia’s stand turning back Napolean’s French invasion of Borodino, 75 miles West of Moscow, in September of 1812].”

“As a rousing patriotic hymn, the Overture has subsequently been adapted into and associated with other contexts than that of the Russian resistance to Napoleon I’s invasion. The 1812 Overture is popularly known in the United States as a symbol of the United States Independence Day, a tradition that dates back to a 1974 choice made by Arthur Fiedler for a performance at the Boston Pops July 4th concert.”

From Wikipedia on The Nutcracker: “The Nutcracker is a two act ballet … set on Christmas Eve, where family and friends have gathered in the parlor to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for the party.”

Tchaikovsky’s score of the Nutcracker contains some of the most beautiful melodic music ever composed. My wife and I have seen it performed numerous times during the Christmas season, and it never gets old.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy these two grand pieces that millions of Americans enjoy on America’s Independence Day and the Christmas season, composed by the great Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

The Nutcracker Suite:

The 1812 Overture:

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