Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite

It's now after Thanksgiving, and so it's officially the Holiday season as we approach the end of the year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia*, and all the rest.  And the Holiday Season means The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write this ballet in 1890, and it was first performed in 1892, a year before his death. The reception was lukewarm, at best - the audience seemed to much prefer his older ballet Swan Lake.  The Nutcracker ballet slipped into obscurity for fifty years, but Tchaikovsky's orchestral Suite quickly became one of his most popular compositions.

The entire Suite comprises three parts: an Overture, the Dances, and the Waltz of the Flowers.  Disney's 1940 film Fantasia included both the Dances and the Waltz.  Today, we'll see the Dances:

Now I only had boys, so we missed the whole ballerina thing.  But when they were small, they were both mesmerized by this part of Fantasia - particularly the Frost Faeries and the Cossack dancers.  And who doesn't love the dancing Mushrooms?  The entire set of Dances (not all included in Fantasia) are:

Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
Russian Dance
Arabian Dance
Chinese Dance
So welcome to the official start of Saturnalia, with the Official Shopping Theme for the whole Saturnalia season!  Stop back next week for more Saturnalia music.

* OK, you caught me - we're still about 3 weeks out from Saturnalia.  But Black Friday marks the official start of the Saturnalia Shopping Season.  Can't start too soon, you know.


Ken said...

Nutcracker excerpts were big in doll commercials around the holidays in the 1960s, as I recall.

I just ripped my CD of excerpts to my laptop, along with a classical Christmas compilation (Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart, etc.), a Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas CD, and the pop trinity: Sinatra, Mathis, and Guaraldi.

Southern Belle said...

I'm taking Scooter to The Nutcracker on December 10th. She loved it last year and will love it again this year to be sure.