In 1891 and 1892, Tchaikovsky composed a ballet and an orchestral suite based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s Christmas story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” In the years since, The Nutcracker has become a holiday classic. Its popularity is such that, in 1960, Duke Ellington decided to adapt Tchaikovsky’s suite for his jazz orchestra. Assisted by his long-time collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, Ellington produced an intelligent and convincing reimagining of the original score that showcased the refined sonorities of his big band and lent the music an irresistible swing.
© 2022 Florence Leyssieux
Translation by Craig Schweickert