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1812 (arr. Brown)

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Peter I Tchaikovsky

Pytor Ilyich Tschaikowsky (arr. T. Conway Brown)


Subtitle: Ouverture solennelle

This work bears the designation Q.M.B. Edition no. 87.


General Info

Year: 1880 / 1938
Duration: c. 13:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet olo-I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet Solo-I-II
B-flat Trumpet
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Organ
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cannon (or large bass drum)
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

It's safe to say that almost everyone knows the flashier aspects of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture: cannons, church bells, brass bands. The solemn overture is undoubtedly one of the most surefire crowd pleasers to resound through the concert hall (although it was originally intended for outdoor performances).

Tchaikovsky was at the height of his career when he was commissioned in 1880 to compose a feature piece for performance at the All-Russian Exhibition of arts and Crafts in 1882. His first four symphonies, the First Piano Concerto and several celebrated orchestral showpieces had firmly established his international reputation as the current grand master of Russian composers. For the exhibition, he wrote a tribute to one of the most triumphal moments in Russian history, the defeat of Napoleon's invading army near the beginning of the century.

Most of Tchaikovsky's music is at least somewhat programmatic, but in no other piece is the program quite so transparent. The overture begins with a Novgorod peasant tune, played first by the strings, then augmented by woodwinds, representing the simple purity of Mother Russia. One can almost imagine the land itself as a slumbering giant, secure in its own strength. Suddenly, the serene atmosphere is broken by a stormy passage heralding the incipient war. It was as if a messenger burst through the doors into a church service announcing "We've been invaded."

A single snare drum signals the march of Napoleon's army onto the scene, announced by the horns. The Russian Imperial Army defends its territory in a fierce clash, but the invader prevails as bits of the French national anthem Le Marseillaise periodically rises above the clamor. The Russians retreat.

In quiet retrospect, the people mourn the desecration of their homeland by invaders and prepare to rise against the French. Battle is resumed, but once again Le Marseillaise is heard, as the French prevail, and once again the people mourn. Yet a third time the Russian troops attack, and this time the land itself – the sleeping giant – rises up to join with its people and throw off the invaders' yoke. (Coincidentally, this is historically accurate, for it was the Russian winter that actually defeated Napoleon's far superior military forces.)

The victorious third conflict leads to a celebration unprecedented in orchestral music: a salute of cannons, pealing of church bells, the Czarist national anthem, along with the solemn melody that opened the work. Tchaikovsky even throws in snatches of the march that originally heralded the arrival of the French, but Le Marseillaise is nowhere to be heard. Mother Russian has prevailed, and joy is everywhere.

- Program Note by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble concert program, 6 December 2015


Media

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State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • North Carolina: VI


Performances

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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music


All Wind Works


Resources

  • 1812 Overture, Wikipedia Accessed 29 June 2018
  • Girsberger, Russ. Percussion Assignments for Band & Wind Ensemble: Volume 2 L-Z. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications, 2004, 303-304. Print.
  • Tchaikovsky, P.; Brown, T. (1938). 1812 : Ouverture Solennelle, Arranged for Military Band by T. Conway Brown [score]. Boosey & Hawkes: London.