Cleveland bans 1812 overture

Cleveland bans 1812 overture


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2022

The orchestra’s CEO announced the decision to scrap the Tchaik spectacular in the NY Times:

“Given the way Russia is behaving right now and the propaganda that is out there, to go and play music that celebrates their victory I just think would be upsetting for a lot of people,” said André Gremillet, the president and chief executive of the orchestra. “Everyone would hear that reference, complete with the cannons, to the current war involving Russia. It would be insensitive to people in general, and certainly to the Ukrainian population in particular.”

Is the Marche Slave next?



  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Deeply stupid and out of time to banish 1812. And don’t forget that during 1812 we can hear La Marseillaise… When I hear that I don’t think about Ukraine I think more about Zubin who recorded that so well with the LA Phil in the 70’s. And. I can’t talk for the dead… but I have big doubts that George Szell would have liked this decision.

    • Amos says:

      Based on George Szell’s comments to TCO audience after the Kent State massacre I suspect he would have learned and performed the Ukrainian anthem before banning the 1812. The current banning is moronic.

      • Concertgebouw79 says:

        You can play the Ukrainian anthem and play after 1812 in a concert. And Don’t forget that the Kiev Ballet house has danced on tour last winter in France some Tchaikovsky music after the start of this fatal war. Let the spectator be intelligent in concert hall is a good option. Tchaikovsky is not reponsable of this war and he don’t have to be a victim or a guilty today.

  • Bratsche Brat says:

    Completely imbecilic ignoramuses make these sorts of decisions. Lock them in a room until they’ve read War and Peace, before making such a decision.

  • CA says:


  • Music fan says:

    Good for André Gremillet and The Cleveland Orchestra. 1812 Overture is garbage music that even Tchaikovsky loathed. How it came to be traditionally played during America’s Independence Day celebrations beggars belief. There are plenty of fine American compositions that can be played on this day – and some can even be altered to include cannons.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      1812 it’s around 15 mn it’s not Mahler 3 for the length. 1812 is not at all garbage even if it was a thing Tchaikovsky composed on demand. You can play 1812 and some other things.

  • Thomas M. says:

    The 1812 Overture should have been GLOBALLY banned a long, long time ago, for being a lousy piece of music.

    • Concertgebouw79 says:

      It’s an excellent music to hear when you are running like “Pini di Roma” or “Pictures at an exhibition”.

  • Alexander Graham Cracker says:

    Speaking as a Clevelander, hearing Tchaikovsky doesn’t make me think of Putin any more than hearing Ives makes me think of Biden.

  • Lothario Hunter says:

    Not to worry, folks, the CSO has programmed the 1812 for the Symphony Ball on 9/24, arguably the most important concert of the season for their donors. While other less corageous orchestras keep caving to political pressures, Muti-Alexander stand as beacons of freedom, refusing to take out the n-word from opera librettos, and programming – with the extraordinary artistic planning leadership of Cristina Rocca – a “Russian blast” for the entire next season, spearheaded by the bombastic and militaristic 1812.

    Rumor has it that Muti’s hard core fans are begging him to showcase his Russian awards before these concerts, the order of Friendship received by Putin and the membership of the Russian Academy of the Arts, ran by Putin’s personal sculptor. Muti is very attached to these awards and would not return them to the Russians. And why should he, we may add.

    No matter what happens in this mad world, the Muti-Alexander CSO can be counted on to always do the right thing.

  • James says:

    By this “logic” we must immediately ban all Russian literature from schools: goodbye Pasternak, Tolstoy, Akhmatova, and Dostoyevsky. Also all Russian language study. And nobody can possibly study Stalinism, for they might actually learn lessons applicable to today.

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      Why? Are they all celebrating Russian military victories with bells on? Nobody wants to ban Russian music, or even “ban” 1812. They are just not playing this one particular piece right now. If you need that type of music, try on Beethoven’s “Wellingtons Sieg” for size.

    • MuddyBoots says:

      Good that you put logic in quotation marks, because your “logic” is not. I suggest you spend more time reading quality Russian lit, and less time posting ridiculous defenses of the 1812 Overture. 1812 is an overexposed chestnut, and we don’t need to hear it again. Especially now.

  • Lady Louise says:

    Why not replace The 1812 with The William Tell Overture, which never fails to charm, surprise & delight every audience?

  • Robert Holmén says:

    It’s over- played.

    Just as well to give it a rest.

  • paineite says:

    Ahistorical, anachronistic, pandering, and just plain stupid. Welcome to ‘Murka.

  • Claritusrex says:

    I suggest Festive Overture instead.

  • JW says:

    What’s the big deal about banning it? I just attended another orchestra’s Fourth concert, and it was so nice to hear pieces that haven’t been programmed to death every year. The thousands in attendance were clearly happy with the fresh repertoire.

  • Sol Siegel says:

    1812 is also conspicuous by its absence from the Philadelphia Orchestra’s annual “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park (July 21). Apparently, the usual fireworks will accompany the finale of the 4th Symphony.

  • anon says:

    Electing to not perform the Overture this year is not the same as banning it, or all Tchaikovsky.

  • Richard says:

    What a bunch of F***ing idiots.

  • Henry williams says:

    What next borsht soup. Do i tell my mother not to make it. Because it is Russian.

  • BrianB says:

    Do Beethoven Wellington’s Victory instead. And Handel Royal Fireworks music.

  • Maria says:

    America again!

  • Ms.Melody says:

    When are we invited to the next book burning?

  • M2N2K says:

    At this time, it is a fair and reasonable decision.

  • Kurt Kaufman says:

    Having performed this piece with various orchestras, oh, three dozen too many times, I note that it never fails to please audiences, and I have never begrudged same for making use of its drawing power. Removing it due to some tenuous connection to Putin’s adventures is a misplaced and unfortunate sentiment.

  • Potpourri says:

    Napoleon was the Putin of his day. He conquered much of Europe until over expansion and high military losses weakened him and he lost everything. The 1812 Overture celebrates the defeat of Napoleon/Putin and other military dictators.

    • Ludwig's Van says:

      No: As the music moves along, it decimates la Marseillaise – so it’s only the defeat of France that it celebrates. You can bet Putin listens to it every night before he goes to bed, and again when he awakens, much as Hitler listened to Wagner.

  • Eileen says:

    What idiots!

  • Gerald says:

    Completely unnecessary. Here in the U.S. citizens think it commemorates our War of 1812. That’s why it’s a July 4 performance staple. Nothing to do with Russia. Idiot celebration programmers.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Silly and seems a product of smug and self satisfied thinking. Still, I suppose it is better not to program it than do what the Soviets themselves did: eliminate the “Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!” (God Save the Tsar) themes that Tchaikovsky inserted (and into marche slav) and replace it with the Soviet anthem. Hearing those soviet recordings is a real eye opener.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Hey, the 1812 Overture for July 4th just got old – OK??? The current war is a valid excuse to give it a rest. But trust me, it will be back – even in Cleveland.

  • Kenton says:

    This ridiculous liberal virtue signaling needs to stop.

  • Edoardo Saccenti says:

    Honestly, musically speaking not a great loss 😉

  • Oleh Mahlay says:

    Bravo. Well overdue. 1812 overture never had any sane connection to America or its celebration of independence. Hopefully other orchestras will follow suit and disengage this musical piece from Fourth of July celebrations.

  • Hirshfield says:

    Has Cleveland Library yet to burn Pushkin at al….if they don’t know how, they can refer to
    files by German experts in the
    field,circa 1933

  • Frank O'Mahony says:

    The hypocricy of these people. They don’t seem to raise an eyebrow when they see what happened to Iraq, and the resulting killing of millions of people throughout the middle east.

  • Michael Egerton says:

    What nonsense, what has Tchaikovsky got to do with the war. People are so stupid.

  • David M Eaton says:

    The National Symphony Orchestra performed it at its July 4th Concert in D.C.

  • Olusola Emmanuel says:

    A most unnecessary decision. Does Putin even know about Tchaikovsky or more importantly, does Tchai know Putin?

  • Jobim75 says:

    Start to ban works , to burn books, everyone knows where it leads. Woke culture is so spread that’s it has become very easy and natural to erase , exclude opinions, history etc…it became a reflex.
    What should we do with the entire US culture after indians genocide? Should we still read American books, hear American composers….
    And this kind of move only pleases these who initiated it, it has absolutely no effect in real world.

  • Scott says:

    Tchaikovsky is one of my favorite composers, but I can live happily without hearing the 1812 Overture in a concert performance or on a recording.

  • Lilas Pastia says:

    1812 celebrates a Russian victory. To stop playing this piece of music now, while Russia is waging a war of aggression is sensible, and not very stupid, moronic or imbecile. There is no suggestion of not playing Jevgenij Onegin, Pikovaja Dama, Swan Lake, Nutcracker or any of the symphonies.

    As for Marche Slave, as Norman mentions, yes: it probably should not be played either, and for the same reason as 1812. The Marche Slave was written to celebrate the Russian entry into the 1876 Serbo-Ottoman war. The Russian entry into that particular war might be seen as Russia supporting a freedom war for an oppressed country, trying to liberate itself from an oppressive, dictatorial empire. However, in Russian propaganda, their invasion of the Ukraine is described as freeing the Russians in Donbass from Ukrainian oppression.

    So both 1812 and Marche Slave should not be programmed for the time being: as these works were written to celebrate Russian military victory and to celebrate Russian military intervention abroad.

  • Van Howell says:

    In my grandmother’s bookcase I found a smallish book of The World’s Great Composers. Frontispiece portrait featured—you guessed it!—Edward MacDowell, of course. The publication date: late 1917 or 1918. Missing in Action (nowhere mentioned): Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Wagner, Schumann, etc (WW1)

  • Bone says:

    Maybe not “everyone” would hear this piece as a signal to support Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine et al, but this cancellation is an excellent example to virtue signalers everywhere!