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Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
The Nutcracker

Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based on a story by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. In The Nutcracker, a Christmas present -- a nutcracker -- comes to life as a handsome prince. He takes the young girl who received him as a present on some fantastic adventures.

Music heard in this episode:
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Overture
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: March
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Battle Between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Waltz of the Snowflakes
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Spanish Dance
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Arabian Dance
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Chinese Dance
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Russian Dance
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Dance of the Reed Pipes
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Mother Gigogne
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Waltz of the Flowers
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker: Final Waltz

Other shows about Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Traditional Christmas Classical Music

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About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
5/7/1840 - 11/6/1893
Born in Russia

Piotr (or Peter, as we would say in English) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, a town in Russia's Ural Mountains. When he was 8 years old, his family moved to the capital city of St. Petersburg. Even though Tchaikovsky was a good musician as a kid, that wasn't considered an "acceptable" profession, so his parents made him study law instead.

But even in law school, Tchaikovsky continued to study music. Eventually, he gave up his legal job and went to the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After he graduated, he moved to Moscow to teach at the new conservatory there. It's now named for him.

For years, Tchaikovsky had a patroness named Nadezhda von Meck -- a wealthy widow who was a big fan of Tchaikovsky's music. She regularly sent him money so that he could concentrate on composing without having to worry about making a living. But Nadezhda von Meck didn't want to meet Tchaikovsky. For 14 years, they only communicated by writing letters to each other. Tchaikovsky dedicated his Fourth Symphony to his patroness.

Tchaikovsky traveled all over Europe for performances of his music. In 1891, he even came to America for the opening of Carnegie Hall, where he was invited to conduct his music.

See other composers born in Russia


This Week's Quiz:

1. The name of the little girl in The Nutcracker is






2.The name of the instrument that sounds like bells in The Nutcracker is a




tam tam


3. In The Nutcracker, Clara and her prince are entertained by lots of dancers.




Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker

Composed in 1891
Performed by Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
Ondrej Lenard, conductor

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