Waltz Of The Flowers
Bridget Mermikides arranges and transcribes an infectious piece by the awesome Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
In thIs Installment of our classical column we are going to tackle a work by tchaikovsky (1840-93), a composer with a great talent for producing widely accessible yet technically sophisticated melodies. so great is the popularity of his works, that his many themes for ballet and orchestra (including the 1812 Overture, his 6th symphony, swan lake, the nutcracker suite and the sleeping Beauty) are instantly recognisable (and used endlessly in film, TV and popular culture) around the world.
as is not always the case with the great composers, tchaikovsky did in fact have great success during his lifetime. sadly however, he suffered terribly with depression, feelings of worthlessness, intolerance of his homosexuality, and an unhappy marriage. In fact some believe that his death at age 53 may be attributed to suicide. Yet within his music is a magical, innocent joy and that’s certainly evident in the beautifully engaging Waltz Of the Flowers, which I have arranged here. this waltz is from act II of the magical nutcracker ballet (1892) (and also in the orchestral work nutcracker suite Op.71a) which received very mixed reviews at its premiere but is now a hugely popular and often performed ballet (and orchestral) work.
the Waltz Of the Flowers is heard in the ballet, as magical flowers dance in honour of Clara, the protagonist, who has been led to the land Of sweets, by an animated wooden nutcracker toy. the whole ballet is full of Christmassy magic and wonder, and this piece is no exception. tchaikovsky’s writing has the sway of a Viennese waltz but its gorgeous melody and lush harmonies lend it an irresistible sparkle.
In order to get this huge orchestral work pared down so that it will work for solo guitar I’ve made sure that the most important thematic and harmonic material remains in place. therefore I’ve arranged it for drop D tuning - which also maintains the original key of D major.
While this piece needn’t be played particularly fast, maintaining the appropriate Waltz feel and legato melody may take quite a bit of work. the fretting hand gets a real workout in negotiating the sustained melody and interjected chords, so refer to the tab captions to get you through the trickier sections. however, once it’s fully under your fingers and you have started add your own expression to it, you’ll have a wonderful piece to add to your repertoire.
Tchaikovsky was a composer with a great talent for producing widely accessible yet technically sophisticated melodies.
Tchaikovsky: the much troubled musical genius