1812 Overture Op.49
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky's work famous for its part for cannons falls two places
Tchaikovsky was particularly scathing about the 1812 Overture before it premiered, saying it would be 'without artistic merit, because I wrote it without warmth or love'. Given the heartache in Tchaikovsky's life, it's sad to think he never realised how his 1812 Overture would go on to become one of the most adored creations in classical music.
A musical portrayal of the Russian victory over Napoleon, the 1812 Overture weaves together a number of orginal and historically significant musical themes, including the French national anthem 'Marseillaise', the Russian National Anthem and an Orthodox hymn.
The 1812 Overture is perhaps best known for its rousing climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes and brass fanfare finale. Tchaikovsky originally intended the piece to be performed with a brass band to reinforce the orchestra, the bells of the cathedral and live cannon fire in accompaniment. Unfortunately logistics prevented this from happening, though the piece has since been performed and recorded with the level of noise and excitement Tchaikovsky envisioned.
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