Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer (May 7, 1840 to November 6, 1893) was not included in the Russian Five - Modest Musorgsky (1839-1881), Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), Mily Balakirev (1837-1910), César Cui (1835-1918) and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov
(1844-1908) - because his musical training was felt to be too
influenced by German music; however, he is the most famous Russian
composer of the Romantic Period (1825-1900).
Of his three big ballets: Swan Lake (Op. 20, 1875-6), Sleeping Beauty (Op. 66, 1888-9), The Nutcracker (Op. 71, 1891-2) was the last; The Nutcracker Suite (Op. 71a, a Suite is music taken from a larger work) was first performed on March 19, 1892 (conducted by Tchaikovsky) - nine months before the ballet was performed (December 18, 1892)!
The ballet, based on a story by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), is about a little girl (Claire) who receives a wooden nutcracker as a Christmas present; her brother breaks it and she “puts it to bed”. In her dreams the nutcracker becomes the leader of the gingerbread men against the king of the mice - who would have won had Claire not slain the king with her slipper. The nutcracker becomes a handsome prince who takes Claire to the land of the sugar-plum fairy, where toys and sweets celebrate the wedding of Claire to the handsome prince.
In 1891, Tchaikovsky went on a conducting tour, including the USA (he conducted the opening of Carnegie Hall in May, 1891 and also visited Niagara Falls); while in Paris, he was enchanted by a new instrument invented by Auguste Mustel (1842-1919) in 1886 - the celesta - which we now associated with The Nutcracker, and specifically The Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy.
The Suite consists of three main parts: Overture, Characteristic Dances (March, Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, Russian Dance, Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance and Dance of the Reeds) and Waltz of the Flowers.
The Ballet is in two acts; March is Act I (Act 1, No. 2), however, all of the other movements used in the Suite are from Act II: Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy appears near the end of the Ballet (there are 15 numbers and it is Variation 2 of No. 14 Pas de Deux) - after Waltz of the Flowers (No. 13). Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance, Dance of the Reeds, and Russian Dance are a different order in the Ballet - all taken from No. 12 Divertissement: (a) Le Chocolat (Chocolate), (b) Le Café (Coffee - Arabian Dance), (c) Le Thé (Tea - Chinese Dance), (d) Trépak (Russian Dance), (e) Les Mirlitons (Dance of the Reeds) and (e) La Mère Gigogne et les Polichinelles (usually translated as Mother Goose).
Solo Book comes with a Play-Along Audio CD containing Full Orchestral Accompaniment at various speeds (with & without the solo part).
Duet Book is compatible with the Solo Book, Audio CD and Piano Accompaniment
Each volume also contains Practice and Alternate Fingering Suggestions in addition to Historical Information & Background
$19.95 each volume; curently available:
Bb Clarinet - The Nutcracker - Volume 1
Bb Clarinet - The Nutcracker - Volume 2
Eb Alto Saxophone - The Nutcracker - Volume 1
Eb Alto Saxophone - The Nutcracker - Volume 2
Piano Accompaniment (for each of the above volumes)