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A Right Jolly Old Elf

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The Nutcracker

Michael Rielly

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I don't know what it is exactly about me. But there are certain pieces of music that effect me in a way that many grown men may not want to admit to.


I grew up with a lot of varied musical influences. My mother studied and played classical piano. She also played the organ for our Church on occasion. So there was a lot of Chopin, Brahms, Mozart, and Bach always in the background growing up - but also a lot of country, jazz, and popular music as well. Elvis, Johnny, Frank, Dean, Bing, and Sammy, were also heard a lot in my house. So I learned to appreciate many different musical genres and styles. I can honestly say that I love most music. However there are one or two forms of "music" I simply just don't get and probably never will. But I digress.

The fact that I grew up with so many musical influences is likely the reason I decided to pursue music myself. I studied classical trumpet for over 20 years and I played in a variety of orchestras and bands - Classical, Jazz, Stage, and Blues. I also did my fair share of "rock band" work - Chicago, BTO, Billy Joel, Elton John, and the like. I even sang in a few of these bands. And I've been known to belt out a few show tunes on stage as well.

But it is Classical and Instrumental music that I find myself going back to over and over again. And not just composers that lived in the 1500s through the 1800s, like; Beethoven, Bach, Hayden, Chopin, and Mozart, but 20th Century composers too - Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, and John Williams.

This music effects me. Certain pieces and movements can literally give me goosebumps and in some cases bring me bring me to tears. I have no idea how or why this happens. Believe it or not, The End Title from The Empire Strikes Back composed by (IMHO one of the greatest modern day composers) John Williams always brings me to tears. Again, I have no idea why. It just happens.


Now what does all of this have to do with Christmas you ask? Well, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite has this effect on me. Not just one or two songs from the ballet but almost the entire suite! Every year I make it a point to see The Nutcracker. The Boston Ballet does a wonderful performance every year - as does the Festival Ballet in Providence. As the Overture begins chills begin to run up and down my arms and a lump starts to form in my throat.

I began writing this entry while listening to The Nutcracker on my mp3 player and even now it has the exact same effect on me as I would get sitting in the theater watching a live performance. Weird.

Well, it's late and I am off to bed. After sitting here rambling on about The Nutcracker, I wonder if I will dream about a giant Mouse King.



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It's quite a coinencidence that yesterday evening as you wrote your blog entry, I too was listening to Tchaikovsky's - The Nutcracker. I love the Overture and the Russian Dance especially. I have many of the same emotions when listening to classical music, the tears, the goosebumps, and smiles.

A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to get the last 2 tickets to a special performance of the instrumental music from the motion pictures, The Lord of the Rings, presented by the Symphony Orchestra of Albuquerque. I was able to take my then 8 year old daughter with me, and it was truly the experience of a life time! She was moved to tears several times by the sheer intensity of the music, as was I. You could feel the emotion of the instruments, and it is a feeling neither of us will soon forget!As for a favorite composer... for me it's Mozart, hands down. I think he was a genius, and I enjoy his music often.

When Love was a little girl I would play a game with her: I would pretend to be some random character that she would make up, and I would tell a story along with the music. If it was flutes for instance, I may have been a butterfly doing a winged dance in the forest, or if it was the heavy beat of drums, I could be a soldier marching. It was fun and helped spark her imagination. We rarely play our game anymore, but when we do it is special.

Thanks for sharing with us Santa Rielly!

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