Fun on the Fourth

One of America’s Fourth of July traditions has always perplexed me, and every year when the holiday rolls around, I get to thinking about it.

Why do we love Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture so much? It wasn’t written for us because it commemorates Russia’s defense against Moscow from Napoleon.

But it doesn’t matter, because we love it and it is played yearly at Fourth of July concerts. (And it just happens to be one of my favorite pieces of music.)

For year’s I’ve heard the Packard Band in Warren, Ohio, play the 1812 Overture at their Fourth of July concert. The show has been good, which is always followed by fireworks, but the band has no strings. A couple years back I heard the 1812 Overture played by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra at a concert, with antiphonal brass from the Toledo Glassmen, which was glorious.

And then in summer 2008, when I was in New York City, I attended the New York Symphony Orchestra’s Central Park Fourth of July concert. Sixty thousand people packed into the Great Lawn for a night of music. But for the first half of the concert, everyone talked and grilled and were all together noisy. I called my mother at intermission, complaining about the noise. It was unbelievable.

Then, as the second half began with the 1812 Overture, everyone started shushing each other. Again, I was stunned.

This year was good, too. I got my city fireworks last night and then had neighborhood fireworks on the beach tonight. We could also see Huron’s, Cedar Point’s, Kelleys Island’s and Put-in-Bay’s fireworks, as well. It was a pretty good night.

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