Friday, 20 July 2012

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker

On Tuesday evening, I arrived back from my school Choir Tour to Slovenia and Northern Italy. The tour is an annual event, however this year's was sadly my last as I'm off to university in October! We enjoyed the same activities that we do every year such as singing in incredible buildings like St Mark's in Venice, eating the local food (endless amounts of pasta and pizza) and - of course - spending a considerable amount of time on a coach with the rest of the choir: 45 children and 7 adults (along with our very patient tour guide and coach driver). As anyone who has been on long journeys will know, time goes quicker when you have an activity to pass the time. For us, this meant rattling through everybody's collections of classical music and playing 'name that tune'. During this, I came across the music for a ballet that I have always loved, yet had somehow forgotten about as it isn't part of my own collection of music: The Nutcracker.

'The Nutcracker' is a two-act ballet composed by Tchaikovsky, and premiered in 1982. Although the ballet itself was not a roaring success when it first opened, the music definitely was, and is one of Tchaikovsky's most famous works to this day, including the music for 'Sleeping Beauty' which was the reason Tchaikovsky was commissioned to compose for 'The Nutcracker' in the first place. While listening to several different movements of the ballet on a friend's ipod, I remembered where I had first heard the music: Disney's 'Fantasia'. 

For anyone who doesn't know the 1940s film, 'Fantasia' is a production by Disney that incorporates the greatest classical works from various periods and sets them to suitable animations. Unfortunately, the release of the movie put off previous Disney fans who believed the movie to be too 'high-brow' because of its inclusion of classical music. However, in my opinion, I believe it to be one of the most original animations out there, and demonstrates the power of creativity and interpretation. Here is Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, set to the images of what the Disney animators saw when they heard the music:

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