The 1812 Overture got its debut on this date…no not in 1812 but in 1882 at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Tsar Alexander the Second commissioned it, but never got to hear it because he was assassinated before the debut. The Overture oddly enough, glorifies what was, strictly speaking, the defeat of the Russian Army at the battle of Borodino at the hands of the Grand Armee of Napoleon…in which over 100 thousand soldiers died. Even though Napoleon won the battle, and was able to advance the final 75 miles to Moscow, only to find it deserted, with most food and valuables taken…indeed, much of it had been torched rather than to let it fall into the hands of the French. Over extended and short of supplies, Napoleon retreated from Moscow…and was harried every step of the way back by Russian guerrillas…even when the French WIN a battle it can go wrong for them. Tchaikovsky, the composer wasn’t much fond of the piece…Describing it as Loud and Noisy and without artistic merit. What it may have lacked in those areas, it made up for in elaboration. Not only did the piece require an orchestra, but an auxiliary brass band, huge Carillons and, yes, sixteen cannon to make it come out the way the composer halfheartedly wanted it to. You can’t do it with just one cannon, because you need sixteen reports in a two minute span with the shots coming on cue, which is impossible, even with a crack military crew that most orchestras just don’t have. Musicologists say Tchaikovsky himself never heard the Overture performed as he originally planned it…but he probably didn’t care.
Album Notes: Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. Some Musical Motifs Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks. Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” thanks to http://www.musopen.com. Some audio may be used under the Fair Use Doctrine