1812 Overture

1812 Overture

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Encyclopedia
The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E flat major, Op. 49, popularly known as the 1812 Overture or the Overture of 1812 is an overture
Overture
Overture in music is the term originally applied to the instrumental introduction to an opera...

 written by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

 in 1880 to commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

's advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino , fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia and all Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties...

 in 1812. The overture debuted in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on . The overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare finale.

Instrumentation



The 1812 Overture is scored for an orchestra that consists of the following:
  • Brass Band
    Brass band
    A brass band is a musical ensemble generally consisting entirely of brass instruments, most often with a percussion section. Ensembles that include brass and woodwind instruments can in certain traditions also be termed brass bands , but are usually more correctly termed military bands, concert...

    1 (finale only)
  • Woodwinds
    Woodwind instrument
    A woodwind instrument is a musical instrument which produces sound when the player blows air against a sharp edge or through a reed, causing the air within its resonator to vibrate...

    : Piccolo
    Piccolo
    The piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...

    , 2 Flute
    Flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

    s, 2 Oboe
    Oboe
    The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

    s, Cor anglais
    Cor anglais
    The cor anglais , or English horn , is a double-reed woodwind instrument in the oboe family....

    , 2 Clarinet
    Clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

    s in B, 2 Bassoon
    Bassoon
    The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

    s
  • Brass
    Brass instrument
    A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

    : 4 Horn
    Horn (instrument)
    The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....

    s in F, 2 Cornet
    Cornet
    The cornet is a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet, distinguished by its conical bore, compact shape, and mellower tone quality. The most common cornet is a transposing instrument in B. It is not related to the renaissance and early baroque cornett or cornetto.-History:The cornet was...

    s in B, 2 Trumpets in E, 3 Trombone
    Trombone
    The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...

    s, Tuba
    Tuba
    The tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...

  • Percussion: Timpani
    Timpani
    Timpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...

    , Bass drum
    Bass drum
    Bass drums are percussion instruments that can vary in size and are used in several musical genres. Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished. The type usually seen or heard in orchestral, ensemble or concert band music is the orchestral, or concert bass drum . It is the largest drum of...

    , Snare drum
    Snare drum
    The snare drum or side drum is a melodic percussion instrument with strands of snares made of curled metal wire, metal cable, plastic cable, or gut cords stretched across the drumhead, typically the bottom. Pipe and tabor and some military snare drums often have a second set of snares on the bottom...

    , Cymbal
    Cymbal
    Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a...

    s, Tambourine
    Tambourine
    The tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....

    , Triangle
    Triangle (instrument)
    The triangle is an idiophone type of musical instrument in the percussion family. It is a bar of metal, usually steel but sometimes other metals like beryllium copper, bent into a triangle shape. The instrument is usually held by a loop of some form of thread or wire at the top curve...

    , Carillon
    Carillon
    A carillon is a musical instrument that is typically housed in a free-standing bell tower, or the belfry of a church or other municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to play a melody, or sounded together to play a chord...

    2, Cannon
    Cannon
    A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

    3
  • String
    String section
    The string section is the largest body of the standard orchestra and consists of bowed string instruments of the violin family.It normally comprises five sections: the first violins, the second violins, the violas, the cellos, and the double basses...

    s: (Violins I, II, Viola
    Viola
    The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

    s, Cellos, Double bass
    Double bass
    The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

    es)

Notes:
1. "Open" instrumentation consisting of "any extra brass instruments" available. In some indoor performances, the part may be played on an organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

. Military band
Military band
A military band originally was a group of personnel that performs musical duties for military functions, usually for the armed forces. A typical military band consists mostly of wind and percussion instruments. The conductor of a band commonly bears the title of Bandmaster or Director of Music...

s or Marching band
Marching band
Marching band is a physical activity in which a group of instrumental musicians generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching with their musical performance. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments...

s also play this part.
2. Sometimes substituted with tubular bell
Tubular bell
Tubular bells are musical instruments in the percussion family. Each bell is a metal tube, 30–38 mm in diameter, tuned by altering its length. Its standard range is from C4-F5, though many professional instruments reach G5 . Tubular bells are often replaced by studio chimes, which are a smaller...

s or recordings of carillons.
3. In the sections in which cannon shots are played, the actual cannons are sometimes replaced by recorded cannons or played on a piece of staging, usually with a large wooden mallet or sledge hammer. The bass drum and tam-tam
Gong
A gong is an East and South East Asian musical percussion instrument that takes the form of a flat metal disc which is hit with a mallet....

 are also regularly used in indoor performances.

Musical structure


Beginning with the plaintive Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox Church or Slavonic Orthodox Church is an umbrella term for East Orthodox churches that use Church Slavonic in liturgy, the latter being of Byzantine Rite...

 Troparion
Troparion
A troparion in Byzantine music and in the religious music of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a short hymn of one stanza, or one of a series of stanzas. The word probably derives from a diminutive of the Greek tropos...

 of the Holy Cross
played by four cellos and two violas, the piece moves through a mixture of pastoral and martial themes portraying the increasing distress of the Russian people at the hands of the invading French. This passage includes a Russian folk dance, At the Gate, at my Gate. At the turning point of the invasion—the Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino , fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia and all Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties...

—the score calls for five Russian cannon shots confronting a boastfully repetitive fragment of La Marseillaise
La Marseillaise
"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France. The song, originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795...

. A descending string passage represents the subsequent retreat of the French forces, followed by victory bells and a triumphant repetition of God Preserve Thy People as Moscow burns to deny winter quarters to the French. A musical chase scene appears, out of which emerges the anthem God Save the Tsar!
God Save the Tsar!
"God Save the Tsar!" was the national anthem of the late Russian Empire. The song was chosen from a competition held in 1833. The composer was violinist Alexei Lvov, and the lyrics were by the court poet Vasily Zhukovsky...

thundering with eleven more precisely scored shots. The overture utilizes counterpoint to reinforce the appearance of the leitmotif
Leitmotif
A leitmotif , sometimes written leit-motif, is a musical term , referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe...

 that represents the Russian forces throughout the piece. A total of sixteen cannon shots are written into the score of the Overture.

The music can be interpreted as a fairly literal depiction of the campaign: in June 1812, the previously undefeated French Allied Army of over half a million battle-hardened soldiers and almost 1,200 state-of-the-art guns (cannons, artillery pieces) crossed the Niemen River into Lithuania on its way to Moscow. The Russian Orthodox Patriarch of All the Russias, aware that the Russian Imperial Army could field a force only a fraction of this size, inexperienced and poorly equipped, called on the people to pray for deliverance and peace. The Russian people responded en masse, gathering in churches all across the Empire and offering their heartfelt prayers for divine intervention (the opening hymn). Next we hear the ominous notes of approaching conflict and preparation for battle with a hint of desperation but great enthusiasm, followed by the distant strains of La Marseillaise
La Marseillaise
"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France. The song, originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795...

, the French National Anthem, as the French approach. Skirmishes follow, and the battle goes back and forth, but the French continue to advance and La Marseillaise becomes more prominent and victorious – almost invincible. The Tsar desperately appeals to the spirit of the Russian people in an eloquent plea to come forward and defend the Rodina
Rodina (disambiguation)
Rodina may refer to one of the following:*Rodina, a political party of Russia*Mother Motherland monuments in a number of cities of former Soviet Union*Rodina , a Russian historical illustrated magazine...

(Motherland). As the people in their villages consider his impassioned plea, we hear traditional Russian folk music. La Marseillaise returns in force with great sounds of battle as the French approach Moscow. The Russian people now begin to stream out of their villages and towns toward Moscow to the increasing strains of folk music and, as they gather together, there is even a hint of celebration. Now, La Marseillaise is heard in counterpoint to the folk music as the great armies clash on the plains west of Moscow, and Moscow burns. Just at the moment that Moscow is occupied and all seems hopeless, the hymn which opens the piece is heard again as God intervenes, bringing an unprecedented deep freeze with which the French cannot contend (one can hear the winter winds blowing in the music). The French attempt to retreat, but their guns, stuck in the freezing ground, are captured by the Russians and turned against them. Finally, the guns are fired in celebration and church bells all across the land peal in grateful honor of their deliverance from their "treacherous and cruel enemies."

In a transcription by American conductor Igor Buketoff
Igor Buketoff
Igor Buketoff was an American conductor, arranger and teacher. He had a special affinity with Russian music and with Sergei Rachmaninoff in particular. He also strongly promoted British contemporary music, and new music in general.- Biography :Buketoff was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son...

 the following changes and additions were made:
  • The opening segment, God Preserve Thy People is sung a cappella
    A cappella
    A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

    by a choir.
  • A children's or women's choir is added to the flute and cor anglais
    Cor anglais
    The cor anglais , or English horn , is a double-reed woodwind instrument in the oboe family....

     duet rendition of At the Gate.
  • The orchestra and chorus unite in the climax with a triumphant version of God Preserve Thy People and God Save the Tsar.

Historical background: Napoleon's invasion of Russia



On September 7, 1812, at Borodino, 120 km (74.6 mi) west of Moscow, Napoleon's forces met those of General Mikhail Kutuzov in the only concerted stand made by Russia against the seemingly invincible French army. The Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino , fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia and all Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties...

 saw casualties estimated as high as 100,000 and resulted in a French tactical victory. It was, however, ultimately a Pyrrhic victory
Pyrrhic victory
A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost to the victor that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately cause defeat.-Origin:...

 for the French invasion.

With resources depleted and supply lines overextended, Napoleon's weakened forces moved into Moscow, which they occupied with little resistance. Expecting capitulation from the displaced Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, the French instead found themselves in a barren and desolate city, parts of which had been burned to the ground by the retreating Russian Army.

Deprived of winter stores, Napoleon had no alternative but to retreat. Beginning on October 19 and lasting well into December, the French army faced several overwhelming obstacles on its long retreat: famine, typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

, frigid temperatures, harassing cossacks and Russian forces barring the way out of the country. Abandoned by Napoleon in December, the Grande Armée was reduced to one-tenth of its original size by the time it reached and relative safety.

Anachronism of nationalist motifs


Although La Marseillaise
La Marseillaise
"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France. The song, originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795...

was chosen as the French national anthem in 1795, it was banned by Napoleon in 1805 and could not have been heard during the approach of Moscow. However, it was reinstated as the French Anthem in 1879—the year before the commission of the overture—which can explain its use by Tchaikovsky in the overture.

Although God Save the Tsar!
God Save the Tsar!
"God Save the Tsar!" was the national anthem of the late Russian Empire. The song was chosen from a competition held in 1833. The composer was violinist Alexei Lvov, and the lyrics were by the court poet Vasily Zhukovsky...

was the Russian national anthem
National Anthem of Russia
The National Anthem of the Russian Federation is the name of the official national anthem of Russia. Its musical composition and lyrics were adopted from the anthem of the Soviet Union, composed by Alexander Alexandrov, and lyricists Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan. The Soviet anthem was...

 in Tchaikovsky's time, it was not the anthem in 1812. There was no official Russian anthem until 1815, from which time until 1833 the anthem was Molitva russkikh
The Prayer of Russians
The Prayer of Russians was a song used as the national anthem of Imperial Russia from 1816 to 1833.After defeating the First French Empire, Tsar Alexander I of Russia recommended a national anthem for Russia...

, Prayer of the Russians, sung to the tune of God Save the King
God Save the Queen
"God Save the Queen" is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown Dependencies. The words of the song, like its title, are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, with "King" replacing "Queen", "he" replacing "she", and so forth, when a king reigns...

.

Commission of the overture


In 1880, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, commissioned by Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 to commemorate the Russian victory, was nearing completion in Moscow; the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Alexander II would be at hand in 1881; and the 1882 Moscow Arts and Industry Exhibition was in the planning stage. Tchaikovsky's friend and mentor Nikolai Rubinstein suggested that he write a grand commemorative piece for use in related festivities. Tchaikovsky began work on the project on October 12, 1880, finishing it six weeks later.

The piece was planned to be performed in the square before the cathedral, with a brass band to reinforce the orchestra, the bells of the cathedral and all the others in downtown Moscow playing "zvons" (pealing bells) on cue, and live cannon fire in accompaniment, fired from an electric switch panel in order to achieve the precision demanded by the musical score in which each shot was specifically written. However, this performance did not take place, possibly partly due to the over-ambitious plan. Regardless, the assassination of Alexander II that March deflated much of the impetus for the project. In 1882, at the Arts and Industry Exhibition, the Overture was performed indoors with conventional orchestration. The cathedral was completed on May 26, 1883.

Meanwhile, Tchaikovsky complained to his patron Nadezhda von Meck
Nadezhda von Meck
Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck was a Russian businesswoman, who is best known today for her artistic relationship with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. She supported him financially for 13 years, enabling him to devote himself full-time to composition, but she stipulated that they were never to meet. ...

 that he was "not a concocter of festival pieces," and that the Overture would be "very loud and noisy, but [without] artistic merit, because I wrote it without warmth and without love," adding himself to the legion of artists who from time to time have castigated their own work. It is this work that would make the Tchaikovsky estate exceptionally wealthy, as it is one of the most performed and recorded works from his catalog.

On his 1891 visit to the United States, Tchaikovsky conducted the piece at the dedication of Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 in New York City. While this piece has little connection with United States history besides the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 diverting the British, freeing Napoleon to attack Russia, it is often a staple at Fourth of July
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 celebrations, such as the annual show by the Boston Pops and at Washington DC's annual program called A Capitol Fourth
A Capitol Fourth
A Capitol Fourth is a free annual concert performed on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the Independence Day. Broadcast live on PBS and NPR, the concert is viewed and heard by millions across The United States and the world, as well as...

.

After the Russian Revolution the Tsar's anthem melody was replaced with the chorus "Be glorified, be glorified, holy Rus'!", Славься, славься, святая Русь! from Mikhail Glinka
Mikhail Glinka
Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka , was the first Russian composer to gain wide recognition within his own country, and is often regarded as the father of Russian classical music...

's "Ivan Susanin
A Life for the Tsar
A Life for the Tsar , as it is known in English, although its original name was Ivan Susanin is a "patriotic-heroic tragic opera" in four acts with an epilogue by Mikhail Glinka. The original Russian libretto, based on historical events, was written by Nestor Kukolnik, Georgy Fyodorovich Rozen,...

".

Logistics


The logistics of safety and precision in placement of the shots require either well-drilled military crews using modern cannons, or the use of sixteen pieces of muzzle-loading artillery, since any reloading schemes to attain the sixteen shots or even a semblance of them in the two minute time span involved makes safety and precision impossible with 1800s artillery. Time lag alone precludes implementation of cues for the shots for 1812-era field pieces.

Did Tchaikovsky ever hear the piece as written?


Musicologists questioned across the last third of a century have given no indication that the composer ever heard the Overture performed in authentic accordance with the 1880 plan. It is reported that he asked permission to perform the piece as planned in Berlin, but was denied it. Performances he conducted on U.S. and European tours were apparently done with simulated or at best inexact shots, if with shots at all, a custom universal until recent years.

Antal Doráti
Antal Doráti
Antal Doráti, KBE was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer who became a naturalized American citizen in 1947.-Biography:...

 and Erich Kunzel
Erich Kunzel
Erich Kunzel, Jr. was an American orchestra conductor. Called the "Prince of Pops" by the Chicago Tribune, he performed with a number of leading pops and symphony orchestras, especially the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra , which he led for over 44 years.-Early life and career:Kunzel was born to...

 are the first conductors to have encouraged exact fidelity of the shots to the written score in live performances, beginning in New York and Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 as part of Dorati's recording, and Kunzel in Cincinnati in 1967 with assistance from J. Paul Barnett, of South Bend, Indiana.
Of recorded versions of these performances, Dorati's recording for Mercury Records
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

 is the more faithful performance. Dorati uses an actual carillon called for in the score and the bells are rung about as close to a zvon then known. The art of zvon ringing was almost lost due to the Russian Revolution, when many of the bells were destroyed. The Dorati recording also uses actual period French cannon from the 1812 period, which belonged to the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 at West Point.

Recording history


  • The earliest traceable orchestral recording, by the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra conducted by Landon Ronald
    Landon Ronald
    Sir Landon Ronald was an English conductor, composer, pianist, singing teacher and administrator...

    , was issued by HMV
    HMV
    His Master's Voice is a trademark in the music business, and for many years was the name of a large record label. The name was coined in 1899 as the title of a painting of the dog Nipper listening to a wind-up gramophone...

     on three 12-inch 78rpm sides in 1916. It includes bells but no cannon effects.
  • A Royal Opera
    Royal Opera, London
    The Royal Opera is an opera company based in central London, resident at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Along with the English National Opera, it is one of the two principal opera companies in London. Founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company, it was known by that title until 1968...

     Orchestra recording of about the same time contains no shots at all.
  • Antal Doráti
    Antal Doráti
    Antal Doráti, KBE was a Hungarian-born conductor and composer who became a naturalized American citizen in 1947.-Biography:...

    's landmark 1954 Mercury Records
    Mercury Records
    Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

     recording with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
    Minnesota Orchestra
    The Minnesota Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Emil Oberhoffer founded the orchestra as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1903, and it gave its first performance on November 5 of that year. In 1968 the orchestra changed to its name to the Minnesota Orchestra...

    , partially recorded at West Point, and using the Yale Memorial Carillon
    Yale Memorial Carillon
    The Yale Memorial Carillon is a carillon of 54 bells in Harkness Tower at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut....

     in New Haven, Connecticut, uses a period French single muzzleloading
    Muzzleloader
    A muzzleloader is any firearm into which the projectile and usually the propellant charge is loaded from the muzzle of the gun . This is distinct from the more popular modern designs of breech-loading firearms...

     cannon shot dubbed in 16 times as written, and was such an advancement in authenticity that on the first edition of the recording, one side played the Overture and the other side played a narrative by Deems Taylor
    Deems Taylor
    Joseph Deems Taylor was a U.S. composer, music critic, and promoter of classical music.-Career:Taylor initially planned to become an architect; however, despite minimal musical training he soon took to music composition. The result was a series of works for orchestra and/or voices...

     about how the cannon and bell effects were accomplished. (Later editions placed the commentary after the performance on side 1 and the Capriccio Italien
    Capriccio Italien
    The Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, is a fantasy for orchestra composed between January and May of 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.The Capriccio was inspired by a trip Tchaikovsky took to Rome, during which he saw the Carnival in full swing, and is reminiscent of Italian folk music and street songs...

    on side 2.) Despite later technological advances, this monaural recording is generally accepted as the finest performance of this piece ever recorded. A stereophonic version was recorded on April 5, 1958 using the bells of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon, at Riverside Church
    Riverside Church
    The Riverside Church in the City of New York is an interdenominational church in New York City, famous for its elaborate Neo-Gothic architecture—which includes the world's largest tuned carillon bell...

    . On this Mercury Living Presence Stereo recording, the spoken commentary was also given by Deems Taylor and the 1812 was coupled with Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien
    Capriccio Italien
    The Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, is a fantasy for orchestra composed between January and May of 1880 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.The Capriccio was inspired by a trip Tchaikovsky took to Rome, during which he saw the Carnival in full swing, and is reminiscent of Italian folk music and street songs...

    . Later editions coupled the 1812 Overture with Dorati's recording of Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

    's Wellington's Victory
    Wellington's Victory
    Wellington's Victory, or, the Battle of Vitoria, Op. 91 is a minor orchestral work composed by Ludwig van Beethoven to commemorate the Duke of Wellington's victory over Joseph Bonaparte's forces at the Battle of Vitoria in Basqueland on June 21, 1813...

    , which featured the London Symphony Orchestra
    London Symphony Orchestra
    The London Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra of the United Kingdom, as well as one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Since 1982, the LSO has been based in London's Barbican Centre.-History:...

     and real cannon.
  • DECCA, Sir Robert Sharples and the London Festival Orchestra: First recorded in 1963, later remastered in quadrophony by Decca, Sir Robert Sharples at the baton and the London Festival Band left the world another landmark recording with "pomp and circumstance" of roaring cannons in sensorround echoing as thunder in the distance and mighty church bells gloriously jubilating the 1812 victory.
  • Later recordings have been done by similar means. The Black Dyke Mills Brass Band
    Black Dyke Band
    The Black Dyke Band, formerly the Black Dyke Mills Band, is one of the oldest and best-known brass bands in the world. The band has won many prizes and competitions over the years...

     has also recorded a brass band arrangement of the piece. This recording includes the cannon shots as originally written. In 1990, during a worldwide celebration of the 150th anniversary of Tchaikovsky's birth, the Overture was recorded in the city of his youth by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic using 16 muzzleloading cannons fired live as written in the 1880 score. That recording was done within earshot of the composer's grave. The festival was televised for the first time in USA on March 9, 1991.

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