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TomSlick

(10,942 posts)
Tue Jul 4, 2017, 08:24 PM Jul 2017

1812 Overture

I'm watching "Capitol Fourth" on PBS.

When the fireworks started, the orchestra played an abbreviated version of the 1812 Overture.

In the past, I've just thought it amusing that a piece celebrating the Russian defeat of Napoleon is played at American patriotic events. This year as I heard the choir singing in Russian, I felt vaguely threatened. What changed?

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1812 Overture (Original Post) TomSlick Jul 2017 OP
As a piece of music, it's one of my favorites. But... politicat Jul 2017 #1

politicat

(9,808 posts)
1. As a piece of music, it's one of my favorites. But...
Tue Jul 4, 2017, 09:02 PM
Jul 2017

My historical studies era of focus is the late 18th and early 19th centuries -- Napoleonic Wars era plus early industrial revolution.

Alexander I of Russia did manage to defeat Napoleon. (Or more precisely, managed to channel a popular stubborn recalcitrance into opposition while Bonaparte's supply lines were cut by the Germans, winter fell and typhus took hold. It was more defeat by marching siege than repulsion, and it's what stopped Hitler, too.) But Alex was not a better leader; he was pretty typical of Russian leadership through the centuries. Despotic, autocratic, manipulative and utterly uninterested in any form of representative government or even a glimmer of egalitarianism. He eventually ended up paranoid and reactionary, too.

Not that Napoleon was significantly better as Emperor, but assuming Napoleon had managed to win, he had to pay some lip service to the Fraternité. Bonaparte backed France down from the extremes of the Terror, but they never again completely reverted to the abuses that sparked La Revolution, either. For all of Napoleon's faults, Russia might have been better off in the long run under an Emperor Napoleon I. (Don't take this as praise for Bonaparte. Better than Alexander is like saying better than Ceausescu. It doesn't take much.)

In many ways, we're all now in a similar historical place to both 1786 and 1913. We've got lots of little brushfires burning, lots of tensions, multiple leaderships with competence or malice problems, poor diplomacy and significant Intelligence ongoing.

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