Wednesday, July 4, 2012

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.

~ FreeThinke


  1. You sure posted a lot today! I have to rely on Mrs. AOW to post for me. Mostly, anyway.

    But she posts what I find and helps me find other goodies tom post too.

    Happy 4th of July!

    I am going to watch a Capitol Fourth tonight on TV. Mrs. AOW is watching too. Her favorite choir us supposed to perform there!

  2. It is important to remember that no orchestra is complete without an artillery section.

    Always loved this piece.


  3. Hi, Mr. AOW, I did post much more than normal for two reasons:

    1. It's Fourth of July and calls for exorbitant amounts of celebration and thoughtful, prayerful praise and thanksgiving.

    2. I needed to practice newly acquired video posting skills enough so they I would not be forgotten. ;-)

    Besides that, I think it's a good idea to put a lot of different things out there so there's something that nearly everyone can relate to somewhere in the mix.

    It's all experimental right now. I'm having a lot of fun, but naturally, I want others to enjoy it too.

    Hope you're having a really good time on this special day.



  4. Hey, Finn, it's hard not to like the 1812 Overture. It's a little slow starting, maybe, for the average listener, but a work of great genius all the same.

    There's a wonderful performance by the Berlin Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa available, but I thought the ending was spoiled by their use of phony-sounding ELECTRONIC bells (:-o that produced a jarring, too piercing sound against the orchestral timbre, so, despite the overall superior orchestral sound and a more interesting video of instrumentalists in action. Ozawa and the Berlin Philharmonic got finessed.

    Always tough to make one choice among many great renditions.

    Appreciate your stopping by.

    ~ FT

  5. It was played tonight at the opening of the fireworks show on the National Mall, with cannon, sans bells as far as I could tell.

    We watched the Boston Pops too, while the fireworks were spectacular I was somewhat disappointed at the musical selection. Sorry, top 40 hits during a fourth fireworks show just doesn't do it for me.

    We can't have fireworks this year :( so we're forced to watch it on TV.


  6. PBS broadcasts A Capitol Fourth every year, but I don't watch the broadcast every year. I did this year, but the version of the 1812 Overture wasn't as good as the one in the body of this blog posting.

    The one in 1976 was stupendous, and I did watch that one. Of course, back then we didn't have good color sets nor high definition.

  7. To tell the truth I prefer black and white movies and TV, AOW.

    When technology becomes an end in itself –– as it certainly has in this day and age –– it diminishes our capacity to use our imagination and find our own unique way of identifying with things.

    This is why I bother to write each day. It would be too easy just to sit in one of the oh-so-comfy Danish leather lounge chairs with my feet on the footstool, and let the endless waves of Sight and Sound wash over me and get lulled into a stupor.

    This is the danger of TV and the computer. These things make it much too easy to let OTHERS do not only do our thinking for us, but even take over our powers of IMAGINATION.

    Writing here each day may not make much impact on "society," but it helps keep this old brain from atrophying.

    Yesterday, I featured Charles Ives' "The Fourth of July" –– a work which still has the capacity to shock and offend middle-class sensibilities. I have grown to love Ives, but admit it has taken a determined effort on my part to appreciate him. The point in mentioning this, however, lies in the knowledge that IVES NEVER EXPECTED HIS WORKS TO BE PERFORMED. Like Emily Dickinson –– another great New England Spirit –– he wrote FOR HIMSELF.

    I have come to believe that's the best possible motive for doing anything.

    As I observed in yesterday's new-minted poem, there are lots of people who:

    Deny their overeager plaintiveness,
    Erupting fulsomely with put on saintliness,
    Pouting as though martyred for a cause, when Everyone knows they only crave applause.

    Ironically, doing things just to please yourself may be the least vain pursuit any of us could possibly engage in.

    ~ FreeThinke

  8. Sorry, FT, Tchaikovsky - sentimental bombast.

  9. You should be sorry, Ducky. You miss so much of the joy and glory of being alive.

    But thanks for stopping by.

    No one has to love what I love to be welcome here.

    ~ FT

  10. I see dear Blogger has been busy deformatting an established post once again.

    And we can't even go back in and correct it! [FAMILIAR EXPLETIVE THOUGHT BUT LEFT UNSAID!]


    ~ FT

  11. BTW, Ducky, I posted Charles Ives' Fourth of July as well, and you said nothing. I thought surely you'd love that, even though I love it, myself, and Finntann hated it.

    Just no pleasing you, is there?

    ~ FT



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