Today’s music is well-known. More popularly known as the 1812 Overture, this piece was written and composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1880 to commemorate Russia’s victory against Napoleon’s intense invasion. By the end of the invasion, retreating to Poland, Napoleon’s Great Army lost nine-tenths of its troops to weather, disease, famine, and war.
The Year of 1812 debuted in Moscow two years later, and Tschaikovsky himself conducted the overture in Carnegie Hall, New York City, in 1891. It soon became his most famous work.
The entire overture can be read fairly literally for the invasion. Le Marseillaise can be heard as French troops advance, and cannon fire – the actual battle – drowns it out. The Russian national anthem, Боже, Царя храни! (God Save the Tsar!), then plays loudly.
Below is the finale of the piece, which many will immediately recognize: