On this day in 1882 Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture debuted in Moscow, Russia.
The Year 1812, festival overture is an overture written in 1880 by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to commemorate Russia’s defense of its motherland against Napoleon’s invading Grande Armée in 1812.
It has also become a common accompaniment to fireworks displays, including those in the United States during Fourth of July celebrations.
The overture debuted in Moscow on 20 August 1882, conducted by Ippolit Al’tani under a tent near the then unfinished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which also memorialized the 1812 defense of Russia.
The overture has mistakenly been claimed to have been conducted by Tchaikovsky himself at the 1891 opening of Carnegie Hall, but he actually conducted his 1881 Festival Coronation March in D (Marche Solennelle) in the second half of the opening night concert.
The overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare finale.