Fourth of July celebrations in 2022, with and without Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture

Posted on: July 5, 2022

The Boston Pops performs Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” on July 4, 2017. The Pops planned to perform the work at this year’s July 4 concert. Photo by Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

“Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ has been a staple of Fourth of July festivities across the United States for decades,” writes Javier C. Hernández in Sunday’s (7/3) New York Times. “But this year many ensembles, concerned about the overture’s history as a celebration of the Russian military—Tchaikovsky wrote it to commemorate the rout of Napoleon’s army in Moscow in the winter of 1812—are reconsidering the work because of the war in Ukraine. Some groups have decided to skip it…. Others … have added … the Ukrainian national anthem to their programs…. For the first time since 1978, the storied Cleveland Orchestra is omitting the work from its Fourth of July concerts…. More than a dozen ensembles in Connecticut, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming and elsewhere have decided to forgo the piece…. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut … felt that ‘celebrating a Russian military victory is just too sensitive a topic right now’ … said [President and CEO] Steve Collins…. The Boston Pops [plans] to proceed with the piece this year…. [Boston Pops Conductor] Keith Lockhart said that … the overture could serve as a reminder [that] ‘It is the attempt of authoritarian powers to dominate other powers that is bad.’ ”