No Holiday concert would be complete without selections from the Nutcracker Suite! Join us this Saturday, Dec 11, 7:30pm at Clinton High School to enjoy all the pieces and composers we have been highlighting this past week.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 1840-1893

Tchaikovsky in his last years earned his greatest successes matched only by his growing depression. He was to die less than a year after The Nutcracker ballet debuted. Arguably the best known Russian composer of all time, his works include 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 3 piano concertos, a violin concerto, 4 cantatas, 20 choral works and over 100 songs and piano pieces. Although his operas had limited success, he was able to transform ballet into staged musical drama, revolutionizing the genre. He took ballet very seriously, seeing it as an art equal to all others when detractors were writing it off.

Nutcracker is based on the romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale of Clara and the nutcracker she gets for Christmas, which magically transforms into a handsome prince who sweeps her away to the Kingdom of Sweets. As a ballet, Tchaikovsky found the structure difficult and limiting and asked to be released from the project. Instead, he was given an extension and his brilliance was able to create a masterpiece, although he felt it never measured up to his Swan Lake. It has become a worldwide holiday favorite, written for children; appreciated by adults.

Marche. Full of fanfares and swirling strings, the joy of the holidays

Danse Chinoise. Steady bassoons and flute flourishes

Danse Arabe. Not actually Arabian, but a Georgian lullaby; slow, sinuous, exotic

Danse russe Trepak. The national Russian dance; begins fast, accelerates furiously

Program notes by Karin Anderson-Sweet

Holidays with the Clinton Symphony – Tchaikovsky