Until a few years ago, whenever I heard the word Nutcracker or heard the music, especially the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, I would think of a certain department store Christmas commercial. I had never seen the ballet performed or truly listened to the music. That changed when we were gifted tickets to a professional performance of the Nutcracker Ballet. It was beautiful and it the story and the music have become a favorite of Supergirl. Because she loves the Nutcracker I knew we would want to add The Nutcracker from the Stories in Music collection to our small collection of CDs from Maestro Classics.
About the Story and the Music
The Nutcracker ballet is based on a fairytale by E.T.A Hoffman. He was a German writer, composer, and painter. He was born in 1776 in a city in Prussia which is now a city a in Russia! He died in 1822 in Berlin, Germany.
The composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, wrote many famous ballets such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty in addition to the Christmas favorite, The Nutcracker.
Although this only about an hour long it does contain music from every section of section of the ballet. Yes, it does have the dance of the sugar plum fairy!
Jim Weiss wrote the script. I liked how he explained not only ballet terms but the German words as well so he doesn’t just call it the Grandfather’s dance but uses the German word for Grandfather.
Listening and Enjoying this Story in Music
On the back cover it it says ages 5+ families. I whole heartedly agree! My whole family enjoyed listening to this CD which is subtitled on the cover as "A Classic with Orchestra & Narration." When my husband heard it for the first time, he had to walk over to the cover to check it out. "I thought I recognized his voice," he exclaimed when he saw Jim Weiss's name as the narrator.
There were two reasons I wanted to review The Nutcracker: we loved the ballet and we love the storytelling of Jim Weiss. Turtlegirl is not as fond of classical music and really doesn’t care for the music of the ballet, but she loves the story and she enjoys Jim Weiss so even she found listening to Jim Weiss telling the story fun and enjoyable.
Boobear, my music loving, music major, college girl was of course thrilled to add to our collection as she loves Tchaikovsky. Jim Weiss telling the story is just icing on the cake.
Supergirl fell in love with the Nutcracker as a ballet when we saw it a few years ago so she was super excited when I told her we were going to review this CD. She’s been listening to it nearly every day. If we’re not listening to it as a family, she’s begging to listen to it alone.
I asked her to share her thoughts about this beloved story and this what she had to say:
I like the beginning. The girl has the nutcracker toy and then it broke and then the guy fixed it and the mice came in and they grew and the nutcracker grew. The Mouse King fights the Nutcracker with a sword. The Mouse King died the other mice bury him. I like the birdcage.
I like the music because the Nutcracker is fun.
I like the end. She fell asleep and then she woke up and she was like 'Was that just a dream?'
Taking it to a Deeper Level
We choose to simply enjoy listening to the story, but for those who want to dig deeper and turn this into a more educational experience will be thrilled to know that there are curriculum guides available for the Maestro Classic “Stories in Music” series including the Nutcracker. For the Nutcracker, subjects include Ballet, History & Geography, Science, Language Arts, Art, Music, and Math.
- The Vendor: Maestro Classics
- The Product: The Nutcracker
- The Narrator: Jim Weiss, who also wrote the script
- The Producer: Allen Wonneberger
- The Conductor: Stephen Simon, who also did the adaptation
- The Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra
- The Composer: Tchaikovsky
- Format: We received the Physical CD; a digital mp3 download is also available.
- Age Range: 5+ Families
- Price: $16.98 for the CD, $9.98 for the MP3 Digital Download
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.