A funny thing happened to me today while I was driving. As usual I was listening to music. And really, its not as if I listen to classical a lot. I’m all over the dial. But as it happens I was listening to classical and when I turned on the radio the 1812 Overture came on. First I thought is it Tchaikovksy’s birthday or something? You ask why does it have to be his birthday or the 4th of July for that work to be played? It doesn’t. I’m just saying that’s what came to mind initially.
As I was listening I zoned in acutely to every aspect of the work. I normally don’t bother to waste energy going in-depth to a degree that is unnatural to typical musicians. On this occasion, don’t ask me why, but I did. Maybe it was because I thought it could be his birthday and out of respect I would do him that honor. Or maybe it was the nostalgia of past 4th of July celebrations that brought things into focus.
It then occurred to me while I was listening that Tchaikovsky might have created the work specifically with the ending (the last 3 minutes) in mind. I enjoyed the play between themes throughout the first 12 minutes, but I felt a strong nudge, a sort of “hang on its coming,” from the composer throughout. As the time for fireworks struck, I said to myself, you really went over the top, Tchaikovsky. The work is so great yet so self-important. I’ve heard it a million times, but when the victory part struck, I laughed. Yeah you really went over the top, Tchaikovsky! Not many could get away with something so outrageous (not to mention the employment of cannons).
I ended my moment with the overture by pondering, who needs fireworks? Likely they are getting in the way of the real show.