Someone asked me yesterday, "How did the 1812 Overture end up being the July Fourth anthem?
It's a good question.
So I later went Googling and wound up at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
the overture, written by famed composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, depicts Napoleon's retreat from Russia in 1812, not America's battles against the British, as many might think.
That's right -- at the height of most Independence Day ceremonies, Memorial Day pageantry or other fireworks displays, the "1812 Overture" blares strains of the French national anthem "La Marseillaise" and the old Russian national anthem "God Save the Czar "across our amber waves of grain. But this bizarre twist is not as unpatriotic as it might seem.
The obvious reason why the piece found a home during America's annual firecracker festival is that gunpowder loves company.
"It is one of the few pieces with good musical content that has cannons exploding," says Leon Botstein, president of Bard College and a conductor and music scholar who has written about Tchaikovsky.
One of the few?
You mean...There are actually others?