The 1812 Overture (Ouverture Solennelle) was composed in October 1880 and commissioned to
mark the 1882 All-Russia Exhibition of Arts and Crafts, but was instead premiered at the
consecration of the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Redeemer, the monument built to commemorate
the Russian defeat of the Napoleonic invasion of 1812. A colorful musical tapestry of nationalistic themes and battle scenes, the “1812” has become an electrifying outdoor event at patriotic concerts worldwide, performed to the wild accompaniment of cannons, bells, and fireworks.
The opening section (measures 1 through 22) incorporates elements of the Russian hymn,
“God Preserve Thy People.” In the conductor’s score, Harp I and Harp II play the opening
section tutti; however, the conductor can be creative and divide the opening section by:
Having one harpist play the entire section or a portion of the section before other harps
Having Harp I play the opening section.
Having Harp II play the opening section.
Having Harp I and Harp II alternate each phrase, i.e., Harp I play the first phrase, Harp II play
the second phrase, Harp I play the next phrase, etc.
Suggested fingerings are indicated; however, every harpist should find the fingering that works best for them. Also, I have attempted to make page turns as easy as possible; however, you may need to memorize a note or two at the bottom of a page or the top of the next page. Don’t hesitate to write in some cues.
Percussion notation for the cannons (Conductor’s Score only on pages 9 and 10).