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1812 Overture

From Wind Repertory Project
Peter I Tchaikovsky

Pytor Ilyich Tschaikowsky (arr. Mayhew Lake)


General Info

Year: 1882 / 1938
Duration: c. 14:10
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score & Parts - $95.00


Instrumentation

Conductor
Db Piccolo
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Eb Clarinet
Bb Clarinet (Solo or 1st)
Bb Clarinet II-III
Eb Alto Clarinet
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bassoon I-II
Eb Alto Saxophone I-II
Bb Tenor Saxophone
Eb Baritone Saxophone
Bb Cornet (Solo or 1st)
Bb Cornet II-III
Flugelhorn (doubles 1st Cornet)
Bb Trumpets I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Horn in Eb I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Baritone (treble clef)
Baritone (bass clef)
String Bass
Basses (Tubas)
Timpani
Drums

(Percussion instrumentation undifferentiated in score)


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


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Army Band (Ft. Myer, Va.) (Andrew Esch, conductor) - 17 August 2019
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla) Wind Symphony (David Samson, conductor) – 26 April 2019
  • United States Army Band (Ft. Myer, Va.) (Andrew J. Esch, conductor) - 19 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • United States Army Band (Ft. Myer, Va.) (Andrew J. Esch, conductor) - 18 August 2018
  • Callanwolde Concert Band (Decatur, Ga.) (Glen Moore, conductor) - 4 July 2018
  • Encore Concert Band (Mokena, Ill.) (Bill Schuetter, conductor) - 4 July 2018
  • Callanwolde Concert Band (Decatur, Ga.) (Glen Moore, conductor) - 4 July 2017
  • United States Army Band (Ft. Myer, Va.) (Timothy J. Holtan, conductor) – 13 August 2016
  • Northwestern Michigan College (Traverse City) Concert Band (Patricia Brumbaugh, conductor) - 21 April 2015
  • Category 5 Wind Ensemble, Inc. (Mitchell Davis, conductor) - 28 April 2013


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources