Tchaikovsky's magical ballet "The Nutcracker" is a Christmas classic, and the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is one of the most recognisable excerpts!
Josef Strauss was a member of the famous Strauss family of composers, and knew how to write great dance music, too! The polka "Winterlust" brings the magic of the winter season to life.
Debussy dedicated the "Children's Corner" piano suite to his three-year-old daughter Claude-Emma "Chou-Chou". Listen to the piano emulating the dancing snow!
Saint-Saëns' "Oratorio de Noël" is a sacred oratorio work. The "Prélude" introduction is inspired by Bach, and sets up the Christmas mood beautifully!
Coleridge-Taylor wrote incidental music (which was never performed) for "The Forest of Wild Thyme" - a ‘charming poetical fairy drama’ for children. The "Christmas Overture" was arranged by Sydney Baynes and probably derived from this work.
One of the most frequently performed holiday works, Handel's "Messiah" is full of Christmas-appropriate excerpts. The joyous "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" is our choice for this list!
The fifth movement from Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil" (Vespers) is a version of the "Nunc dimittis" (the Song of Simeon), based on the Biblical story of Simeon meeting the baby Jesus.
There are choral arrangements of most traditional Christmas songs and carols, and many were originally composed for choral performance. "In the bleak midwinter" is a beautiful, simple setting by Holst of Christina Rossetti's poem.
Bach's "Weihnachstoratorium" has many great choral moments. The opening "Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage" (Shout for joy, exult, rise up, praise the day) is jubilant and dramatic!
"Bethlehem Down" is a beautiful choral anthem/carol by Peter Warlock and also exists as a solo song. Warlock and poet Bruce Blunt were struggling financially, and this piece funded their "immortal carouse" (heavy bout of drinking) on Christmas Eve 1927. It won a carol composing contest.
Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" was an opera composed for radio. It quickly became a beloved holiday work, enjoyed annually by listeners, and turned into film and stage versions.
Pfitzner's opera "Das Christ-Elflein (The Little Elf of Christ) was originally premiered as incidental music to a Christmas play by Ilse von Stach. It was later revised by the composer into a two-act opera.
Adams' "El Niño" is a contemporary (2008) opera-oratorio retelling of the Christmas story. It is based on the Biblical narrative, with excerpts and influences from other sources.
This one is not very festive - the title character Werther in Massenet's opera dies by self-inflicted gunshots as the children outside celebrate Christmas.
Heggie's opera is based on the Frank Capra film of the same name and and “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. It premiered in 2016.
Madame Eustache has 17 daughters. When the girls are asked what they want for Christmas, they respond that they want a little sister!
Toys magically come to life, enchanted by the nativity crèche!
"Noël", or "Trois anges sont venus ce soir" (Three angels came tonight), is a setting of a poem by the composer herself, about an angelic visit.
Wolf's Lied (song) is one of two settings in this list of a poem by Lope de Vega, translated by Emanuel Geibel. During a storm, Mary requests that nature be silent so her child can sleep.
This setting of the same text is by Brahms, and is the second in a set of two songs by the composer for voice, piano, and viola.
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