Beyond the1812 Overture

Happy Independence Day to those in the USA! Here’s a reblog of a post from a couple of years ago regarding some alternatives to the staid patriotic American music we are used to hearing this time of year. Still plenty of “Americanism” to go around in these pieces, though! So if you are in the mood for something a little bit different, and a lot bit interesting, check these out!

Before the Downbeat

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Americans love the booming cannons of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  Many Americans can imagine a great conflict on American soil (bombs bursting in air, and all that).  Except the 1812 Overture is not about America.  Tchaikovsky was referring to another War of 1812: the one where Napoleon’s forces were knocking on the door of Russia and where the tide of the invasion was turned back.  (Yes, that’s why he employed are all those French and Russian tunes).  But despite that, it’s a great example of how Americans adopt a composer and piece to make it something truly their own. It is a deeply patriotic piece.  Just not in the way most Americans think.

Tchaikovsky used more than cannons to get the point across.  He also used tunes that everyone of the time knew, familiar national songs.  American composers in the first half of the 20th century also were quite adept…

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