After the success of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, the St. Petersburg Opera commissioned the Russian composer to write another score. He was asked to compose the music to accompany an adaptation of a 1816 German story, E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, that they wanted to perform as a ballet.
Hoffman's story told of a little girl who dreams that she is transported to a land of sweets and magic by the Nutcracker Prince and at first Tchaikovsky was unhappy with the setting of a Christmas party for children. However, the choreographer persuaded him by giving exact specifications of the rhythms and tempos needed for each dance.
The ballet was premièred at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on December 18, 1892. Although the original production was not a success, the 20-minute "Nutcracker Suite" that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was more warmly received.
One novelty in Tchaikovsky's original score was the use of the celesta, a percussion instrument, which produces a bell-like sound. The composer had secretly bought the newly invented glockenspiel-like instrument in Paris and he used it for the character of the Sugar Plum Fairy to characterize her because of its "heavenly sweet sound."
The Odeon label released the first ever long-playing album in 1909 when it released the "Nutcracker Suite" by Tchaikovsky on four double-sided discs in a specially designed package.
The Nutcracker was not performed in Western Europe until 1934 when it premiered in London. The complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s, especially in North America, and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season. (Source of above The Encyclopedia of Trivia).
In 1962, American producer Kim Fowley had the idea of updating "March of the Wooden Soldiers" from The Nutcracker as a novelty boogie piano arrangement titled "Nut Rocker." Five-hundred copies of his production by Jack B Nimble & The Quicks on Del Rio were pressed. Fowley then took the concept to a larger label, Rendezvous, who duplicated the arrangement and released it by B Bumble & The Stingers. This version was a #1 single in the UK, and peaked #23 in the USA.
The Pet Shop Boys 2009 Yes track "All Over the World" is based around a sample of "The Nutcracker Suite."