The opera, Zampa, was first performed in Paris in 1831 and over the next 50 or so years enjoyed frequent performances and remained extremely popular. Since the dawn of the 20th century the popularity of the opera has waned somewhat but the overture has continued to be one of the composer's most famous works and is a staple of the orchestral repertoire.
In 1723 Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) composed four concerti for violin and small orchestra entitled The Four Seasons. Winter is the fourth of these. Each concerto is comprised of three movements and paints sound pictures of the particular season. In this one we hear music describing harsh winter winds and icy snows, enough to make teeth chatter, in the first movement, a cosy scene by the fireside watching the falling rain (second movement) and the harsh winds, ice and snow return in movement 3.
Tchaikovsky's extremely popular ballet, The Nutcracker, was first performed in December 1892. Earlier in the same year the composer extracted several movements from the ballet to form a concert suite. The first performance of the suite was conducted by the composer and the suite was immediately received with huge enthusiasm.
This march was written in 1888 and dedicated to the US Marine Corps, later being adopted as its official march. At the time of its composition Sousa was director of the US Marine Band.
This brass band version contains a small amount of optional movement around the stage and a percussion feature. These will enhance the presentation.
This march, one of Sousa's most popular compositions, was written in 1889 and was dedicated to the Knights Templar of Washington, D.C. Sousa had been knighted by that organization three years earlier. The origins of the name of the march are unclear and the march is noteworthy not only for Sousa's usual creative skills but also for the use, in two sections of the march, of military-style percussion and, in the last section, of featured fanfares.
March Slav was composed in 1876 for a charity concert to support the war in the Balkans. It was completed in the remarkably short time of 5 days and was encored twice at its first performance! The themes are based loosely on Serbian folk songs and there is also a reference to the Russian national anthem. The mood is funereal in style at the opening but this gives way to a very triumphant style by the end.
This march, written in 1893, was originally destined for inclusion in an operetta but after the composer had witnessed a spectacle called "America" in Chicago, which had as its backdrop a huge painting of the Liberty Bell, it was given the name by which it has become famous. Further recognition has come in more recent years by the adoption of the march as the signature tune for the popular TV programme, Monty Python.
El Capitan was originally an operetta which was first produced in Boston in 1896. It was initially very popular and there are occasional revivals even to this day. The march of the same title uses themes from the opera and was also published in 1896. One notable feature - resulting from the use of themes from the operetta - is the abrupt transition from 6/8 to 2/4 half way through the march.