Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Poll: Has the 1812 Overture Lost its Boom?
No Tcheers for Tchaikovsky Favorite at Macy's Display
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - 11:00 AM
Is the 1812 Overture going out of fashion as the fireworks soundtrack of choice for July Fourth?
When the nation's largest Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza gets underway Wednesday night over the Hudson River, onlookers and TV viewers will hear "America's mixtape," a soundtrack of 50 patriotic songs and pop standards chosen through a Facebook contest sponsored by Macy's, the display's organizers. Choices range from "Holiday" by Madonna and "Sparks Fly" by Taylor Swift to "God Bless America" and "God Bless the USA."
Yet conspicuously absent from this year's lineup is Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, with its crashing mix of French and Russian anthems and climactic cannon fire. In an e-mail, Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras said that while the 1812 Overture was one of the initial pieces Macy's Facebook fans could vote for, "the final score selection for this year as voted on by the public does not feature the song."
New York is not alone. When the Los Angeles Philharmonic comes to the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday night, it won't be featuring booming cannons but rather Barry Manilow. In Philadelphia, organizers of the "4th of July Jam" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art promise pop acts like The Roots, Queen Latifah, Joe Jonas and others, but no mention of the 1812.
Still, it may be a temporary change of tune. Donna Grucci of Fireworks by Grucci believes the 1812 continues to be popular amongst many of her clients. "It's got a lot of depth to it," she said of the piece. Similarly, the piece will be heard in the Boston Pops's fireworks spectacular at the Oval in Boston Wednesday night.
Are New York and LA leading the way? Is it time to retire Tchaikovsky's spectacular? What would you like to hear in its place? Take our poll and leave a comment below.