Tschaikovsky - 1812 Overture, op. 49

Tchaikovsky's Overture 1812 expresses Russia's nationalist spirit for the Russians' magnificent victory over Napoleon. In 1880, when he was writing the charming Serenade for Strings, Tchaikovsky undertook to compose a "ceremonial introduction" for an exhibition of industrial art in Moscow. As a theme of his introduction he chose Napoleon's Russia Campaign, which ended with the great victory of the Russian Army. At first the composer intended the introduction to be for outdoor performance and felt that it should be "very loud and noisy". Since then the introduction has become his most famous and most popular concert work. The "1812 Overture" is in fact an introduction to a concerto, in other words is a stand-alone work of orchestral music and not an introduction to opera or a more extensive work. The play describes the invasion of Russia by Napoleon's troops in 1812 and their retreat and defeat in the winter of the same year. Despite

Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre, Op. 40

The deadly forms of this work reflect the gloomy mood presented by the Danse Macabre of Saint-Saëns.

Saint-Saëns's defense of new ideas in music wasn't just theoretical. He was responsible for many musical modernities. A perfect example of these modernities is the symphonic poem he developed with his friend and hero Franz Liszt. Saint-Saëns was the first Frenchman to compose in this form.

The Danse Macabre is one of his most popular symphonic poems. He processes a traditional history and paints it with great emotional depth with the virtuosity of the instruments and orchestra. The subject of death represents a skeleton that leads the living to the tomb and has its roots in the symbolism of the Middle Ages. In the 19th century this theme had developed into a midnight feast of resurrected skeletons.

The composition of Saint-Saëns originally wanted to be the musical version of a modern French poem, showing Death playing the violin in the icy courtyard of a church, while the skeletons of the dead stand up and dance its demonic melody.

Saint-Saens's innate ability to dramatize music appears more than ever in this macabre version of a traditional story. The clever orchestration that produces a universally creepy effect is an element of his legendary talent.

The work begins with slow, careful, distinct notes that announce the advent of midnight and the macabre result is achieved almost immediately by a slow waltz on the solo violin. The swirling melody accelerates as the instruments combine to create the sense of death's triumph over mortals. Then suddenly, an oboe that mimics the cock's lap at dawn announces the advent of the dawn light. The skeletons return to the graves as Death acknowledges that his time has passed.

When the French audience first heard the Danse Macabre in 1875, they did not appreciate the modernity of Saint-Saëns and greeted the work with such noisy boos that the composer's elderly mother fainted. Today it is considered one of his most popular works.