And Now For Something Completely Different: The Best 1812 Overture Ever

Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture has always been one of my favourite pieces of music.

Around the time I started my first full time job I bought a recording of it conducted by Eugene Ormondy, featuring The Mormon Tabernacle choir, and climaxing with real cannons and “Russian” church bells. In my opinion no version I’ve heard has ever surpassed that one.

I spent many lunchbreaks in my car, seat reclined, playing the recording at full volume on the car stereo. I grew to know every part of it from beginning to end. Even today I find myself whistling the most well-known part of it at home.

My friend Chris sent me the link to the following version. This video has additional significance. As I watched it I realised that I’d seen it before, probably when it was first aired on TV decades ago during my childhood. I share it as a little light relief ahead of a serious and difficult post I’m planning to publish within the next few days.

And just in case you’d prefer something a little more highbrow, here’s the Eugene Ormandy version I mentioned above.

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Eurovision 1944

The Eurovision song contest was an annual TV event in my family’s house when I was growing up in England. Maybe partly because we had only two channels, later reduced to one when the tuner on our TV set broke.
It was an earlier, less consumer driven era when people of my parent’s background were careful with their money, so repairs or replacement were out of the question.

After moving to Australia in the early 70s, Eurovision was consigned to memory – no longer relevant or accessible. By the time Australian TV started to broadcast it I was no longer interested in the kind of music it featured.

This year, for the first time since leaving England, I chose to watch most of it; because of the presence of Dami Im as a contestant from Australia (apparently Europe’s newest state).

Gloria and I have followed Dami’s career from her first appearances on Australia’s X Factor, where she was expelled in the early stages due to forgetting the words of her song, on to her readmission to the competition, and finally through to her victory in the final.

When she was entered as Australia’s contestant in Eurovision we wished her well, and wanted to see her performance as compared to the other contestants.
It was exciting to see she was the leader after the first round of scores were tallied and only slightly disappointing when she was tipped into second place by the eventual winner, Jamala of Ukraine.

While we thought Dami far outshone the majority of the entries, I felt the Ukrainian’s passionate performance of her very personal song 1944 made her standout.

The song raised some controversy as it centred on Russian atrocities in WWII that affected her great grandmother. Some saw the song was actually addressing Russia’s current relationship with Ukraine, and should be banned according to Eurovision’s policies on political songs. Adding to that controversy, the Russian entrant had been favourite to win the competition but was pushed into third place behind Ukraine and Australia.

Here is a video of the winning song.

Jamala – 1944 (Ukraine) Live at Semi-Final 2 of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest from nonamenko on Vimeo.