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Christmas Music
#2697357 12/16/17 10:01 AM
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Usually there's a Christmas music thread this time of year. I haven't seen one yet, so I thought I'd start it myself since I have an excuse.

While visiting relatives recently I found a drawer full of old sheet music we all used to play back when everybody was taking lessons. I'm the only one who plays these days, so I claimed it. I was extremely pleased to find some Christmas pieces I remembered when I started playing again, but could not remember who wrote them.

So let's see what's in Santa's bag...

First up is John Ness Beck's Five Carol Fantasies. John Ness Beck was British and mostly composed choral music. As far as I can tell, this collection seems to be some of the only piano music he wrote. The arrangements are quite nice, moderately advanced, but it only took me a little work to mostly relearn them. What's also interesting is that this collection was published in 1971, which means that my piano teacher decided it was worthwhile for her students almost as soon as it came out. Unfortunately it's now out of print and used copies are kind of pricey.

Next we have Carl F. Mueller's Christmas Fantasia. Like John Ness Beck, Carl Mueller seems to have mostly composed choral pieces and most of his keyboard works were for organ. This piece was in my piano teacher's "music basket" which was full of material students could sign out to play on their own. But everybody wanted to play this one so I eventually ended up with my own copy. It sounds a bit dated now, but I still like it and again, didn't have too much trouble relearning most of it. I wasn't able to find out too much about Carl Mueller other than he was American and seems to have been well-known at one time. This piece is still in print. You can find videos of kids wailing away on it in church on Youtube.

Last, there is A Musical Christmas With Peter Duchin. I had been looking for this book for years because it was my all-time favorite Christmas book. Unfortunately all I could remember about it was it was "that hardback book with the red cover." That wasn't good enough for Google and nobody in my family could remember anything else about it, other than it had actually existed. These are 61 short (with one exception) arrangements of carols by the band leader Peter Duchin. Most of the arrangements are fairly easy to play, but there are a few difficult ones. There is an extended theme and variations version of The Twelve Days of Christmas that is a lot of fun. Unfortunately once I found it again I was reminded that this was also the book that never stays open on the music desk so I might have to get another copy to cut the binding and ring-bind it, or do some scanning. It's well worth getting a copy of this book if you collect Christmas music.

So that's it for me. Anyone else familiar with these collections? Or want to add your own favorites new or old?

Last edited by David Farley; 12/16/17 11:03 AM. Reason: typo
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Re: Christmas Music
David Farley #2697360 12/16/17 10:23 AM
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thanks so much, David, for posting. I was not familiar with the Peter Duchin collection, but based on your recommendation I found the following piano roll of Peter Duchin playing 'Chestnuts'. I have now ordered this collection, for my next year's music goal to work up a performance for local assisted living/nursing homes. I have been promising to do this for a couple of years-- but I hope this year to (finally) make it a reality... and I have an entire year to get a Christmas program together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQ2tyB1eHOA

Re: Christmas Music
David Farley #2697363 12/16/17 10:53 AM
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Carol Medley1 Here is a 30 min or so medley of Carols that I posted on Members' Recording section of the Piano Corner Forum, several years back. Enjoy -- and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Re: Christmas Music
David Farley #2697400 12/16/17 01:50 PM
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Speaking of hardback books, difficult to manage, I was (re)gifted THIS several years ago.

Since the arrangements are quite good, I ended up buying the paperback version, for actual use, of A Treasury of Christmas Songs and Carols, ed. Henry Simon (illustrated by Rafaello Busoni, the pianist's son).


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Re: Christmas Music
David Farley #2697407 12/16/17 03:11 PM
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I dug out this lovely piano piece (from my bottomless box of sheet music collected over more decades than I care to mention) to play in my Christmas recital last week. It's by a somewhat cerebral German composer who - on occasion - showed that he also had a sweet tooth grin.

As his Weihnachtstraum (Christmas Dream) showed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLC4HtCrAIk

You'll recognize the tune immediately, but Reger also throws in a snippet of another traditional German carol (O du fröhliche) which you may not be familiar with.

Here is the sheet music. It's not as difficult as it looks, as the RH is repetitive - but you do have to bring out the melody in LH (which also plays the bass notes):

http://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/6/60/IMSLP13440-Reger-op017-Weinachtstraum.pdf


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Christmas Music
David Farley #2697547 12/17/17 05:16 AM
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Thank you for sharing that rendition of “Silent Night “. That was very pretty. Perfect timing as I was really looking for a new arrangement than what I normally play!


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Re: Christmas Music
David Farley #2697585 12/17/17 10:28 AM
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Speaking of Christmas music by German composers and German Christmas carols, this piece by Ernst Simon (published in 1907) could complement the list. "Cathedral's Bells on Christmas Eve" ("Die Domglocken in der Christnacht" by its original title) tries to imitate the sound of church bells on the piano at the beginning and at the end and incorporates another German Christmas carol ("Suesser die Glocken nie klingen") in the middle.

The sheet music and a recording are on IMSLP:

Cathedral's Bells on Christmas Eve / Die Domglocken in der Christnacht

Re: Christmas Music
Pianist685 #2697619 12/17/17 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Pianist685
Speaking of Christmas music by German composers and German Christmas carols, this piece by Ernst Simon (published in 1907) could complement the list. "Cathedral's Bells on Christmas Eve" ("Die Domglocken in der Christnacht" by its original title) tries to imitate the sound of church bells on the piano at the beginning and at the end and incorporates another German Christmas carol ("Suesser die Glocken nie klingen") in the middle.

The sheet music and a recording are on IMSLP:

Cathedral's Bells on Christmas Eve / Die Domglocken in der Christnacht

I've just played it through - utterly charming! Thanks for that.

Might even play it at my next recital (which is still within the Twelve Days of Christmas, after all grin).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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