From sleigh bells and sugarplums to the mystical beauties of the Nativity, every December our senses are filled with the music of Christmas. In this 2-session celebration of the festive season, popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin explores how classical Western composers created a canon of both secular and sacred experiences that are now deeply rooted in our collective seasonal expectations.
Some of this music is ancient and folk-based, some grandly Baroque, and more recent masterpieces have evoked images of feasting, bells, snowy Christmas trees, brightly colored candy, and jolly red Santas. Enjoy the stories behind works by such composers as Bach, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Berlioz, Britten, Vaughan Williams, William Henry Fry, Sibelius, Humperdinck and many others.
December 12 A Christmas Box of Musical Delights
Leopold Mozart, Leroy Anderson, Prokofiev, and Ibert: All take us on jingling sleigh rides, while snowy landscapes by Florence Price and Franz Liszt lead us to the glittering holiday magic of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve Suite and, of course, Tchaikovsky’s incomparable Nutcracker. Ellington and Strayhorn compose a swinging homage to that most famous Christmas ballet and, as for Santa Claus, William Fry gives him a symphony all his own.
December 19 Sacred Glories of the Season
Whether it’s the intimacy of a medieval carol or the mighty choirs of The Messiah, this sacred music opens a portal to nostalgic past experiences and taps into our deepest cravings for connection with the divine. Approaching Christmas itself, travel across Europe sampling inspiring and achingly beautiful music written to celebrate this most spiritual time of the year. Included are exquisite arrangements of carols by English composers Vaughan Williams, Samuel Coleridge Taylor and Benjamin Britten, motets and more by Poulenc and Messiaen, and the most beloved seasonal choral works such as Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ and Handel’s Messiah.