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Christmas Playlist for Classical Music Lovers

If you are like most of us, we love traditional Christmas music this time of year. But have you ever longed for something a little different to listen to, apart from the same old Christmas carols? There is a wealth of Christmas music out there, even some of the greatest composers of all time wrote for the festive season. 


Christmas Oratorio – J.S Bach 

This work is one of the greatest marathons of all time – with six parts, this piece has a performance time of about 3 hours! Bach was a German composer from the 18th century who, among many other works, wrote weekly for church services. The Christmas oratorio was written between 1734 and 1735 and is a series of cantatas for the Christmas feast days of the church. A sacred cantata is a work for choir, orchestra and soloists based on a religious text and unlike an opera there was no acting involved. The work is usually performed as a whole, or in 2 parts. As is typical of Bach’smusic, this work is extremely complex. With superb counterpoint, simple chorale tunes and demanding solo parts, this music is suited for the seasoned listener of classical music. 


Christmas Tree Suite – Franz Liszt 

Who would have thought that a virtuoso pianist, who wrote mostly dazzling, showy piano music would also write Christmas pieces? The Christmas tree suite is a set of 12 pieces for piano solo, or 2 pianos, depending on the version used. Composed in 1873 and completed in 1876, this set of 12 pieces is based on old carols and some of the work is autobiographic in nature. This piece was dedicated to his first grandchild, with a gentle sound, subtle and non-virtuosic, which is unlike Liszt’s other pieces. If you are looking for something different, this work is for you. The work has also been arranged in several combinations since, including a full orchestral version. 


Ceremony of Carols – Benjamin Britten 

This magnificent work by the English composer Benjamin Britten was written in 1942 while the composer was at sea, traveling from the United States to England. The work is scored for a childrens choir, harp and solo voices and later a mixed choral version was arranged. Beginning with a chant-like carol, followed by simple choral arrangement of carols with lilting harp accompaniments and close harmonies, this is a work not to be missed. It is full of a variety of textures and carol settings that will warm the heart. 


The traditional Christmas carols are fantastic to sing and listen to, but why not try some different music this Christmas season? There is a huge variety out there, and this should wet your appetite for more. 


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