Russian Christmas Music

"Russian Christmas Music" is a musical piece for symphonic band, written by Alfred Reed in 1944. It is one of the most popular and frequently-performed pieces of concert band literature.

Reed was commissioned to write a piece of "Russian music" for a concert in Denver, Colorado. The concert's aim was to improve Soviet-American relations; as such, it was to include premieres of new Soviet and American works. Prokofiev's "March, Op. 99" was supposed to be the Russian work, but it was discovered that the work had already been performed in the United States, and Reed was assigned to write a new piece a mere sixteen days before the concert. The piece was first performed on December 12, 1944, on nationally-broadcast NBC radio.

Although "Russian Christmas Music" consists of only one movement, it can be readily divided into four sections:

# The opening section, "Carol of the Little Russian Children" (mm. 1–31; approx. 3 minutes), is based on a 16th century Russian christmas carol. It is slow throughout; after a quiet opening by the chimes, contrabass clarinet, and string bass, the clarinets carry the melody. The other voices join in, and the section ends with a series of chords.
# The "Antiphonal Chant" (mm. 32–85; about 2 minutes) is faster and louder, with the melody initially carried by the trombones, horns, trumpets, and cornets. The woodwinds join in, and the music becomes more and more frenzied until the section ends loudly.
# The "Village Song" (mm. 86–165; about 5 minutes) is much gentler by comparison; the english horn has two solos, with soli in the flutes and a solo in the horns at the end of each. The piece enters a time signature of 6/4; the band plays a series of "cantabile" two-bar phrases back and forth between the woodwinds and brass, with the string bass playing long strings of eighth-notes, which are passed along to the bells. The song becomes quieter again, and the section ends with another English horn solo.
# The "Cathedral Chorus" (mm. 166–249; about 5 minutes) starts quietly, as the end of "Village Song", but a crescendo in the trombones and percussion brings the rest of the band in majestically. The music builds to a climax, but then backs down for a final chorale in the woodwinds; the sound builds once again, and the song concludes with a sonorous finale.

A typical performance of "Russian Christmas Music" lasts 14–16 minutes. As it was written to convey the sounds of Eastern Orthodox liturgical music, which uses the human voice exclusively, the entire piece must be played with some lyrical and singing quality.

"Slavonic Folk Suite" is Reed's arrangement of "Carol of the Little Russian Children" (here called "Children's Carol") and "Cathedral Chorus" for a younger, less experienced band.

The song is also the official corps song of The Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps

References

* Citation
title = One of Our Own: Alfred Reed
url = http://www.bandofmidamerica.af.mil/shared/media/band//AR%20Booklet.pdf
author = USAF Band of Mid-America

* [http://www.windband.org/foothill/dec01.htm#Russian%20Christmas%20Music Program Notes for "Con Spirito", a concert by the Foothill Symphonic Winds]
* "Alfred Reed: A Bio-Bibliography" by Douglas M. Jordan; ISBN 0-313-30333-9
* Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps Performance: [http://www.scvanguard.org/history/gallery/media_viewer.cfm?uid=9066151a-ab03-4f3b-967f-b8461c6aafec Russian Christmas Music]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Christmas worldwide — Christmas around the world redirects here. For other uses, see Christmas Around the World (Bradley Joseph album). The Christmas season is celebrated in different ways around the world, varying by country and region. Elements common to many areas… …   Wikipedia

  • Christmas with John Fahey Vol. II — Christmas with John Fahey, Vol. II Studio album by John Fahey Released 1975 Recorded …   Wikipedia

  • Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 — is an instrumental medley of Carol of the Bells and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen first released on the Savatage album Dead Winter Dead in 1995 as Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24). It was re released by the Trans Siberian Orchestra, a side project of …   Wikipedia

  • Russian culture — Saint Basil s Cathedral on the Red Square, Moscow …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Italy — See also: Music history of Italy Music of Italy Genres: Classical (Opera) Pop Rock (Hardcore New Wave Progressive rock) Disco Folk Hip hop Jazz History and …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Mongolia — Sambuugiin Pürevjav of Altai Khairkhan playing a morin khuur Music is an integral part of Mongolian culture. Among the unique contributions of Mongolia to the world s musical culture are the long songs, one of the greatest features of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Christmas on Mars — theatrical poster Directed by Wayne Coyne Co directors: Bradley Beesley George Salisbury …   Wikipedia

  • Christmas Eve and Other Stories — Studio album by Trans Siberian Orchestra Released October 15, 1996 Genre …   Wikipedia

  • Music of Germany — Genres Electronic Rock (Krautrock) Hip hop Highlife Cabaret Volkstümliche Musik Schlager Heavy metal Opera Specific forms …   Wikipedia

  • Music of China — Timeline General topics Traditional Chinese instruments …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.