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The Nutcracker, is a fairy tale-ballet in two acts, three scenes, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, composed in 1891–92. Alexandre Dumas père's adaptation of the story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by Tchaikovsky (staged by Marius Petipa and commissioned by the director of the Imperial Theatres Ivan Vsevolozhsky in 1891). In Western countries, The Nutcracker has become perhaps the most popular of all ballets, performed primarily around Christmas time.

The composer made a selection of eight of the numbers from the ballet before the ballet's December 1892 premiere, forming The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, intended for concert performance. The suite was first performed, under the composer's direction, on 19 March 1892 at an assembly of the St. Petersburg branch of the Musical Society. The suite became instantly popular (according to Men of Music "every number had to be repeated" ), but the complete ballet did not achieve its great popularity until around the mid-1950s.

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