Friday, March 11, 2011

Classical music for everyone: Why you should listen to the '1812 Overture'

A performance of the 1812 Overture by the US Army Band by the Washington Monument.
Have you or anyone you know ever called Classical music “boring?” While some pieces of Classical music may be just right for a quiet and reflective mood, others are rousing and inspiring. What other genre of music has a piece that requires cannon fire?
Another of the “Top 100” Most Popular Classical pieces, the 1812 Overture was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1880 to honor and celebrate the year 1812 when the Russians turned back the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte from invading Moscow. It was premiered at a church, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which was built by order of the Tsar to thank God for the Russian victory. This piece became a huge hit even in Tchaikovsky’s lifetime because it celebrated a victory that was very important to the Russians.
Part of the fascination of this piece is the dramatic way in which it calls to mind the glories of war for a patriotic nation. The French and Russian National Anthems are used in ways to describe their respective armies in 1812 so that the melodies are meaningful to the Russian listeners of the piece. But the cannon fire and ringing of bells excites hearers of any nationality.
Although it was written for the Russian’s celebration, the 1812 Overture has become a popular patriotic piece even here in America. Take a moment to listen to it—listen for the boom of the cannons and see whether you can’t help but be drawn into the music and find it exciting and inspiring.

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