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Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes

Related thread:
Parodies to the tune of 1812 overture (43)


Joe Offer 05 Jul 13 - 01:20 AM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 13 - 04:04 AM
Micca 05 Jul 13 - 09:15 AM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Jul 13 - 09:38 AM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Jul 13 - 09:44 AM
Ron Davies 05 Jul 13 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,Roberta Dobbins 05 Jul 13 - 11:10 PM
Ron Davies 06 Jul 13 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,SJL 06 Jul 13 - 10:26 AM
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Subject: 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 01:20 AM

I wonder if anybody has (or can develop) a road map of the themes used in Tchaichovsky's 1812 Overture, a piece written by Tchaikovsky in 1880 to commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow during Napoleon's invasion in 1812.

Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the 1812 Overture, but not the roadmap I'm looking for. I think the best way to do a roadmap would be to say what theme comes in at what time.

Of course, most of us would recognize the French national anthem, La Marseillaise - which appears every time the French are winning.

Wikipedia says that the piece begins with the Russian Orthodox Troparion of the Holy Cross played by four cellos and two violas - a troparion is a one-stanza hymn chanted to one of the Eight Tones used in the Eastern liturgical tradition:
    Troparion of the Holy Cross, Tone I:
    [God Preserve Thy People]
    O Lord, save Thy people,
    and bless Thine inheritance!
    Grant victory to the Orthodox Christians*
    over their adversaries,
    and by virtue of Thy cross,
    preserve Thy habitation.

After that, I get lost for a while in what Wikipedia calls "mixture of pastoral and martial themes portraying the increasing distress of the Russian people at the hands of the invading French." The one thing I found in this passage is a Russian folk dance, At the Gate, at my Gate (U Vorot, Vorot") (click)

As the battle goes on, you'll hear God Save the Tsar, which was the Russian National Anthem 1833-1917 (an anachronism). I learned it in the Boy Scouts as the song of the Order of the Arrow, "Firm Bound in Brotherhood."

You'll hear one ten-note theme over and over in the overture, but I can't figure out what it is or where it's from. Here's a sample: http://www.8notes.com/scores/10283.asp - anybody know what it is? It sounds like a bugle call to me. A better sample - (click)

The Wikipedia article says something about "Rodina" (Motherland). The only "Rodina" I could find is this (click) which you'll recognize - but it isn't in the 1812 Overture.

Anybody want to help me make sense out of this piece?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 04:04 AM

I wonder how many Americans thought this was written to commemorate the War of 1812....


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Micca
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 09:15 AM

Joe, I think the rest,including the theme you linked to is Pure Tchailovsky!!!! but the Russian bits you refer to are Identified with subtitles in this (Rather Fun) rendition on U Tube


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 09:38 AM

Someone made a recording with real gunfire on that sequence.


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 09:44 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbxgYlcNxE8


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Ron Davies
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 09:03 PM

I think it's fascinating that Tchaikovsky said the piece was "completely without artistic merit, obviously written without warmth and love".   But it's constructed quite well--great program music.   I love it--especially if the opening chorale is in fact the Troparion actually sung, rather than played (though I play viola)--the chorale is really stirring.   

Of course I understand Tchaikovsky wrote this piece at the same time as the Serenade for Strings--which he loved, I do too.    So it's reasonable that he placed his affections on the Serenade.

In fact my group (Choral Arts Society of Washington) was asked to sing it this year (again) on the DC Mall.   But I turned it down, having been warned in a dream that it would be a Readers Digest version--would only be the top 3 minutes (well, 7 minutes) of the piece.   It irks me beyond belief that they don't think the crowd can stand the whole overture--"hey, just skip to the cannons already".   Admittedly I'm not an impartial observer--it's really wonderful stuff for the chorus--if you do the whole thing, vocal version.   And the group did get some good stuff.    But it was chorus interruptus (just wanted to say that;   actually the main chorus parts the group missed were at the start.)

But c'mon--the US public isn't quite so Philistine as to not be able to take the whole overture. I hope.

And my dream also predicted that we would have to back up Barry Manilow.    That's when I woke up, sweating buckets of relief that I had not signed up.    Since not only was the dream totally accurate, but we would also have had to share the stage with Neil Diamond.   Which in fact the group did. I would have shot myself.

Anyway, I really like a version I have with Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops (but more to the point, the Kiev Symphony Chorus). Children's Choir of Greater Cincinnati is also on it.    The combination of good adult chorus and a children's chorus is quite powerful, as in Carmina Burana and other pieces we've done.

But at any rate, thanks for that deconstruction of the piece. I think you're right; the line you cited was a bugle call.


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: GUEST,Roberta Dobbins
Date: 05 Jul 13 - 11:10 PM

Joe, the video clip for Rodina is a Russian pop song written in 1955, "Moscow Nights," which is not about the Motherland but about the quiet evenings in the vicinity of Moscow. There is a short article on Wikipedia about this song, which had some popularity in the US during the late 50s and early sixties in jazz and folk versions. This clip was entitled "Motherland, Russian Culture, and Cossack Songs". I did not listen to the whole clip but think that Rodina probably does not refer to a song title.


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: Ron Davies
Date: 06 Jul 13 - 10:16 AM

Jan wants me to point out that while DC honored America with a collection of really shopworn has-beens (and some possibly promising would-be's), NYC had the top of the line:    Miranda Lambert and Blake Evans singing a duet-- ( doing it well, I heard a bit of it) -- Usher, and I forget who else she said.

My theory:   NYC had commercial interests pay for the entertainment there;    DC did not. In fact there was a concert scheduled for the afternoon, canceled because of the sequestration.

And after all, both Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow paid the feds in order to crawl onto stage one more time.    So at least it's a drop in the bucket towards the deficit.

If this be thread creep, make the most of it.


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Subject: RE: Tchaichovsky 1812 Overture: Themes
From: GUEST,SJL
Date: 06 Jul 13 - 10:26 AM

Everybody stops at the Russian Front.


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