Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture
No Fourth of July celebration would be complete without hearing a performance of this stirring tribute to the Human Spirit’s incredible resilience and ability to triumph over adversity despite tremendous odds against any possible victory.
I’ll never forget a long ago performance by the National Symphony at Public Television’s annual Independence Day Celebration they call “A Capital Fourth.” Dmitiri Rostropovich was still conducting the orchestra then, and every set of bells in every church in the District of Columbia was scheduled to start playing exactly at Tchaikovsky’s direction in the score.
A helicopter flew (silently!) over the District while the orchestra played. There are sweeping passages in this work that sound like the Winds of Freedom stirring the tree branches all across the land. The sight from high above the many trees lining the streets of the District, filling its parks and surrounding its churches was incredibly moving as the overture worked it’s way from a pregnant lull to the stupendous climax. A thrilling, hair-raising, absolutely unforgettable experience!
The performance selected here is the best of four we listened to before choosing one for you. I wish the orchestra and conductor had been identified, but unfortunately they were not.