Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite Program Notes
Young Clara Stahlbaum, in the story by E. T. A. Hoffman, is given a nutcracker doll with the appearance of a prince, by her godfather (and a magician), Drosselmeyer, at a Christmas party. After midnight, with nearly everyone asleep, the doll transforms into the prince it had formerly been, and Clara aids him in defeating the mouse king who had threatened to take over the house. With the exception of the March (from the early party), these selections are from the Second Act, in the Prince’s Land of Sweets, where they journey before Clara returns home. A sequence of dances represent exotic lands The Sugarplum Fairy welcomes them (she had ruled in the Prince’s absence), and there are other, and the Waltz of the Flowers. Tchaikovsky interrupted the ballet’s composition for a lucrative journey to conduct and perform for Carnegie Hall’s opening in New York, and also in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. On his way, in Paris, he heard the newly-invented celesta for the first time, and wrote his publisher in Berlin: It’s perfect for the ballet that I have to think about in America, but don’t tell Rimsky-Korsakov, because he’ll use it before me. The instrument’s orchestral debut would indeed be the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.
- Marche (March)
- Danse de la Fée-Dragée (Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy)
- Danse russe Trépak (Russian Dance: Trepak)
- Danse Arabe (Arabian Dance)
- Danse Chinoise (Chinese Dance)
- Danse des Mirlitons (Dance of the Reed Pipes) Waltz of the Flowers