Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker was commissioned by the Director of Moscow’s Imperial Theatres. After a rocky start it is now – together with Tchaikowsky’s Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty – one of the most popular and frequently performed ballets.
The story takes place on Christmas Eve, when Herr Drosselmeyer presents his goddaughter Clara with an ornate nutcracker doll. As Clara sleeps with the doll beneath her arm, the toys beneath the tree come to life. The nutcracker leads them in a battle against an army of mice before transforming into a prince and taking Clara on a journey to magical lands.
Although the ballet itself was slow to gain popularity, the orchestral suite comprising highlights from the score met with immediate success. This version of the suite has been arranged for wind ensemble by the German composer, Andreas Tarkmann.