Scherzo

Why Tchaikovsky's Bells And Cannons Sound Every July 4

The Boston Pops rehearses for its Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular on July 3, 2012, at the Charles River Esplanade. i i

hide captionThe Boston Pops rehearses for its Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular on July 3, 2012, at the Charles River Esplanade.

Paul Marotta/Getty Images
The Boston Pops rehearses for its Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular on July 3, 2012, at the Charles River Esplanade.

The Boston Pops rehearses for its Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular on July 3, 2012, at the Charles River Esplanade.

Paul Marotta/Getty Images

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and on the big day, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture will be heard from coast to coast, complete with fireworks and cannons. But how did a Russian composition, depicting the rout of Napoleon's Army, end up as the unofficial soundtrack for our most quintessentially American holiday?

NPR's Scott Simon spoke to two folks who know the answer. David Mugar, executive producer of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, recounts firsthand how the piece was deployed to turn around the annual concert's flagging popularity in the 1970s; he's joined here by Boston Pops music director Keith Lockhart. Click the audio link to hear their conversation.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.