Peter Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker premiered December 17, 1892, at the Mariinsky Theatre of Russia. "Truth be told, it was a little boring despite the magnificence of the setting," Tchaikovsky said. "The papers, as always, reviled me cruelly.'' By the 1930s, the ballet had found its way to Western Europe, and to America by 1940. Today, it's hard to imagine a Christmas season without it.