Oh, yes, this is the time of the year when everybody talks about The Nutcracker, the wonderful ballet with music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky that fascinates children and adults.
In 1816 E. T. A Hoffman wrote the book Nussknacker und Mausekönig or Nutcracker and the Mouse King. He was a prolific artist: writer, composer, caricaturist, and music critic. Hoffman was one of the most influential artists during Romanticism in Germany. His work not only inspired authors, but composers as well, as in the case of Jack Offebach, who wrote his composition Tales of Hoffman.
In 1891 Marious Petipa hired Tchaikovsky to write the music for the ballet inspired by Hoffman’s book. A year later, the first Nutcracker show was performed at the Russian Mariinsky Theatre. This ballet was performed in different cities around the world, and finally in the 1930s the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo performed it in New York. Little by little, this ballet started gaining popularity and could be now considered a Christmas tradition.
Austin Public Library has copies of the children's book by Hoffman, the music by Tchaikovsky, and videos with different performances of this ballet. Feel free to check those out and have a happy holiday!
- The Nutcracker (DVD) Baryshnikov, Mikhail
- The Nutcracker (DVD) Tomasson, Helgi
- Maurice Béjart's The Nutcracker (a different take on Tchaikovsky’s ballet)
- The Nutcracker Ekaterina Maksimova
- Nutcracker by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
- The Nutcracker: Complete Ballet, Op. 71 sound recording
*Picture taken from Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, University of Northern Iowa