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Christmas music


December, subtitled Christmas, is the twelfth and final movement of The Seasons, op. 37 by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, one piece for each of the 12 months of the year. There are clearly different editions, as I learnt after I recorded it! The one I used for the display (from is a little longer than the rather tatty one I have on my shelf!

Christmas gives a great opportunity to learn songs by ear, without sheet music. These 4 short videos take us through Silent Night. The original, written by an Austrian musician, Franz Gruber in 1818 uses simple triads. Though your goal may be to take the music off the page and play from memory, the pdfs that accompany each video may be a helpful!

Here are some more carols.

This evocative piece is the first of 5 that makeup Garreth's December EP.

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983), directed by Nagisa Oshima starred David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tom Conti and Takeshi Kitano. The music was also written by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Snowflakes is op.57 no.2 by the Finnish composer Selim Palmgren. The city scene at the end is Helsinki, where Palmgren both studied as a young man and died in 1951, aged 73.

Let's work out the melody for this song, first sung by Judy Garland in the mid-1940s. Here's the  backing track I use in the video, which could be fun and the sheet music, though I'm sure you won't need it!

Here is Nikki Iles' arrangement of this wonderful Christmas song, from her collection Jazz on a Winter's Night (OUP).


A performance of John Rutter's Christmas Lullaby (1990) for a 'choir' of keyboards. The wind instrument sounds within Logic are better than the human voices so here we have flute, clarinets and bassoon. There is an additional bass part within the accompaniment that I haven't shown on screen.


Something of a wild-card amongst this collection!

George Washington led his troops across the Delaware River on the night of 25/26th December 1776. Though Independence had been declared on 4th July earlier that year, the battles to boot out the British continued into the early 1780s. There are many paintings depicting this event. The painting that inspired this piece was painted in 1850/51 and somewhat romanticised, is by Emmanuel Gottlieb Leutze.

From Museum Masterpieces, Vol.2 by Catherine Rollin.

Nostalgie de Noël by Bernard Désormières is published in AlphaStyles (Van de Welte), the same book ...and composer as Anatolian 08 (ABRSM Grade 4).

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