1812 Overture | Artopia


A Closer Look

In this video clip The South Carolina Philharmonic is playing the last few minutes of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. This piece of music was written to celebrate a Russian victory over the French army. Listen closely to hear "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem. What kinds of military sounds do you hear? Try to imagine a cannon going off during the performance. At what points do you think the cannon would fire?

About the Musicians

The 1812 Overture was written in 1882 and had nothing to do with the war of 1812. It was first played at the consecration of a church in Moscow to commemorate the end of the French invasion of Russia by Napoleon's army. Its musical themes include the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise," and a Russian anthem as well as cannon fire and church bells. When it is performed with full-scale cannon shots (using blanks), the "1812 Overture" usually requires the musicians to wear earplugs.      

About the Artist

As soon as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky began playing the piano, at the age of five, it was clear that he was remarkably gifted. He wrote his first symphony when he was 28, and went on to produce many ballets, operas, choral, instrumental and orchestral works. His ballets include Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

The South Carolina Philharmonic was founded in 1963 and has become one of the leading orchestras in the southeast. Originally known as the Columbia Festival Orchestra, in 1982 it merged with the South Carolina Chamber Orchestra to become the South Carolina Philharmonic. In addition to a concert series it offers a range of educational programs.

Write About It

  • Make a list of what you see and hear in the production.
  • How does the production use the elements of music?
  • What is your opinion of the production? How does it make you feel?