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Tchaikovsky at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater

By Mary Simon

Playwright, pianist, and actor Hershey Felder is known for bringing musical greats like Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, and Franz Liszt to life with his engaging and acclaimed solo shows. His latest subject is Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky—not only considered one of Russia's greatest composers, one of the greatest composers of all time. Check out these selections before or after the performance and enrich your experience.

  • Swan Lake

    2015

    Loosely based on a German folktale, the music from the ballet lives on and continues to be enjoyed by thousands. However, when it was first performed it was considered an abject failure. The dancers and choreographer said it was impossible to dance to, yet the symphonic music endures and the ballet is performed all over the world. This is a masterful musical interpretation with rich sets and costumes recorded live at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. The dancing on this DVD is superb.

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  • 1812 Overture: Capriccio Italien

    1995 by Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilich

    As explosive as ever and the cannons will knock you off your feet. Best heard live at the Grant Park Music Festival's 4th of July concert, but in a pinch this CD will do.

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  • Nutcracker, Swan Lake (Suites): Romeo and Juliet

    1991 by Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilich

    Is there any piece of work in the symphonic repertoire that captures the true essence of Christmas as much as The Nutcracker? I think not. Whether you're familiar with the ballet or simply love the music, you owe it to yourself to experience this delight.

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  • Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker / The Sleeping Beauty / Romeo and Juliet

    2007 by Boston Symphony Orchestra

    The Boston Symphony Orchestra's compilation disc of some of Tchaikovky's most memorable and best-loved compositions.

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  • TCHAIKOVSKY: Seasons (The)

    1984

    Tchaikovsky's brilliant composition depicting the various seasons. Perhaps not as well known as Vivaldi's, but truly mesmerizing and enchanting. Winter is especially loved by this author: I associate this almost as much with Christmas as The Nutcracker Ballet.

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  • Petr Chaĭkovskiĭ

    2003 by Holden, Anthony

    Great biography of Tchaikovsky in the Russian language. If you want to read this in English, ask one of our reference librarians to secure it for you on Interlibrary Loan.

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  • Snoopy's Nutcracker

    1995 by Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilich

    I love this recording because all of the orchestral selections are played on toy musical instruments. It's part of the Snoopy's Classiks on Toys Series. You really have to check this out. So silly, so much fun, and a sure hit with Snoopy lovers.

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  • Tchaikovsky, P.I.: Nutcracker Suite (The) / The Nutcracker Suite (arr. D. Ellington and B. Strayhorn for Jazz Ensemble) (Harmonie Ensemble, Richman)

    2013

    Another wonderful interpretation of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, performed by the Harmonie Ensemble, conducted by Steven Richman. Ellington and Strayhorn arranged the various dance numbers and it swings! Listeners will immediately recognize the genius of both arrangers. [Of special note for parents: there is a children's picture book which can be used to explain and compare the classical rendition versus the jazz interpretation. Great illustrations which capture the techniques and imagination of the Suite.]

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