In recent times, the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture is often played in conjunction with Independence Day celebrations. The first known link of this work was in 1976 when the Boston Pops, conducted by Arthur Fiedler, played the overture on a July 4th TV broadcast. It is not, however, an American patriotic piece. The music celebrates the defeat of Napoleon by the Russian army. While Napoleon was suspicious of the new United States, he was the enemy of our enemy, the British Empire. For the British, the war with the United States was, essentially, a sideshow.
Several years ago, I was at a concert held on the Fort Sill Polo Field. When the 1812 Overture was played, I kept my seat. A young man next to me chastised me as being unpatriotic when I didn’t stand for the presentation.
Remember our history. Had Napoleon not sold the United States the Louisiana Territory, our country would not exist as it does today. Also, the Russians were not our friends. For many years they had quietly been colonizing the Pacific rim and had a strong presence on the sparsely populated West Coast. Only the 1849 Gold Rush overwhelmed them. Two decades later, the U.S. purchased Alaska. Since many people are no longer exposed to American History studies, to drive the point home, there would be no state of Oklahoma or any other plains states.
Just as an aside, both purchases were opposed by conservative “strict constitutionalists.”
In conclusion, enjoy the music if you like, but don’t feel compelled to stand any more than you would for any other ordinary works, pop, rock, classical, hip-hop, country etc..
J. P. Bailey