The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

For years I’ve been dutifully attending my daughter’s performances of “the Nutcracker” as she works her way up to the lead dances. And for years I’ve thought a couple tunes in the party scenes had either Irish or Scottish origins or could plausibly work as Irish tunes.

https://youtu.be/9eP9YRA2Uzg?t=529


Lo and behold, one of them turns out to be “the Steamboat,” more or less.

https://jonathanstill.com/2011/12/25/the-steamboat-the-nutcracker-and-cher-dumolet-bon-voyage-and-happy-christmas/

The other I’m not sure about--any suggestions?

https://youtu.be/9eP9YRA2Uzg?t=1308

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Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

Agreed, the one that starts around 8:50 in the video above is definitely related to The Steamboat, a version of which (but with parts swapped) is well known as the second Kilfenora jig: https://thesession.org/tunes/947
I don’t recognize any of the other tunes.

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

I see what you mean about Steamboat!
None of the others on there sounded like any Irish or Scottish tune I would recognize.
I have the Nutcracker album and my favorite dance is the Chinese tea dance, followed closely by the Spanish chocolate dance.

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

‘Steamboat’? I played this expecting to hear the well known Northumbrian hornpipe, probably composed by James Hill, but got something completely different!

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

Sounds more like ‘Humpty Dumpty’ to me.

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

Ha, I see how that is sort of like Humpty Dumpty!
Christy, the Steamboat tune that is similar to that in the Nutcracker is the (English) Steamboat Quickstep. It’s the first tune here:
https://youtu.be/nnKR8uIKkLM

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

Oh! Actually the tune appears to be Scottish (although that video is of an English melodeon player, and it’s also on an English melodeon album!) More information on the tune here:
https://thesession.org/tunes/1106

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

> Actually the tune appears to be Scottish

The earliest Scottish version of it is Henderson’s Tutor, I think, 1880s-ish, or it may be in Ross, 1869. It doesn’t have a prehistory in fiddle collections, etc, so it was likely either written for the pipes during the latter half of the 19th century, when there was a huge thirst for new marching tunes, or, more likely I believe, it was filched from elsewhere. It could easily have been a music-hall song or an anonymous dance musician’s production anywhere in Britain or Ireland. It feels to me like an “educated” composer imitating trad melody, rather than an “authentic” melody, for what it’s worth.

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Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

I remember seeing “The Nutcracker “ on TV one Christmas: it was a Scottish Ballet production and I also remember doing a double take when the “Steamboat” tune came on: I honestly thought that, being Scottish Ballet, they had substituted it for whatever tune Tchaikovsky had intended to be used at that point!
And isn’t there more than one “Steamboat” tune, which is maybe why Christy queried it?
For my Christmas treat I am being taken to see “The Nutcracker” in Edinburgh with my daughter and granddaughter on 21st December, so I’ll keep my failing ears peeled for any steamboats!

Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

I’m sorry it looks like the “start at” feature didn’t work in the videos I posted

There’s a part at about 23:30 of this video below where it goes into a different dance. It’s sometimes played at a very stately pace. The version my daughter’s show used was much faster, and if I play this speeded up it sounds kind of irish or Scottish to me. Anyone recognize it?

(Note: For some reason I can’t get it to link the video at the right starting point. But try the below at 23:25 or so and you’ll hear it)

https://youtu.be/pgVAiN-k29Y?t=1405

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Re: The Nutcracker and Irish Tunes

I am currently (two performances today!) playing in the orchestra for “Kansas Nutcracker”. It is an adaptation that takes place in early pioneer Kansas. There is a 12 piece orchestra which includes two mandolins and a mandola. I play mandola.