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Themes from "1812 Overture"

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Peter I Tchaikovsky

Pytor Ilyich Tschaikowsky (arr. Johnnie Vinson)


General Info

Year: 1891 / 2008
Duration: c. 2:35
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $55.00; (digital) - $55.00   |   Score Only (print) - $5.00


Instrumentation (Flexible)

Full Score
Part 1

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • B-flat Clarinet
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • Violin

Part 2

  • B-flat Clarinet
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • Violin

Part 3

  • B-flat Clarinet
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • E-flat Alto Clarinet
  • F Horn
  • Violin
  • Viola

Part 4

  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • Euphonium T.C
  • F Horn
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium B.C.
  • Bassoon
  • Cello

Part 5

  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium B.C.
  • Bassoon
  • Euphonium T.C.
  • Cello
  • B-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • Tuba
  • String/Electric Bass

Timpani
Percussion I

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum

Percussion II

  • Crash Cymbals

Mallet Percussion

  • Bells


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).

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


This well-scored arrangement opens with the slow chorale-like theme from the beginning of the original overture. From there it builds to the familiar dynamic strains and powerful conclusion.

- Program Note by publisher


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music


All Wind Works


Resources

  • Perusal score
  • Tchaikovsky, P.; Vinson, J. Themes from 1812 Overture [score]. Hal Leonard: Milwaukee, Wisc.