It’s become something of a hobby, finding sources for the tunes in Tchaikovsky’s score for The Nutcracker. I thought I’d had all the surprises there were to be had when I discovered that the source for the tune of the children’s galop in Act I was not only the French song Bon Voyage, Cher Dumollet, but also the New England Steamboat Quickstep. Now, that Nutcracker party scene tune seems to have yet another source, or instantiation.
If I’m not very much mistaken, here it is again, in a more modal form, accompanying a Basque dance. Pure chance that I happened to look at this video, because someone I interviewed said that Basque dance could be very balletic, so I had a look on Youtube. And there in the middle of the first video I watched, is a little bit of Nutcracker history.
The video should start automatically at the relevant bit, at 3m16s,unless my embed-code editing doesn’t function on your device.
In fact, a quick search for ‘connections between Basque Dance and the Nutcracker’ found a comment on a recording of Nutcracker by Ladylavanda, saying that the children’s galop sounds like a traditional Basque dance called the Satan dantza. She recommends searching for <Pastorala Xahakoa: Satanak>, and sure if enough, if you do, or if you search for Satan Dantza, you can find plenty of examples. And if you search for <Satan Dantza Cascanueces> (Nutcracker in Spanish) you’ll see a few MP3 downloads where Satan Dantza is the main title, and Nutcracker is in brackets. Here’s another even clearer example of the connection.