Friday, December 15, 2017

#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalChristmas Annotated List Week 3

I'm a regular contributor to the #ClassicsaDay Twitter feed. In December 2017, I focused on the music of the season that doesn't get a lot of exposure -- but should. Below is an annotated list of the works I featured  in the feed with the supporting hashtag #ClassicalChristmas.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) - "Messe de Minuit pour Nöel" H9

Charpentier spent 17 years in service to Marie de Lorraine, Duchesse de Guise, first cousin to Louis XIV. During that time he wrote an extraordinary amount of music, both for Mlle. de Guise and other nobility who commissioned works. After her death, he entered the Jesuit order and thereafter wrote primarily sacred works. Messe de Minuit pour Nöel was composed around 1690 and is one of Charpentier's best-known works. Woven into the music is ten traditional French carols.

Jakub Jan Ryba (1765-1815) - Czech Christmas Mass

Music teacher and composer Jakub Jan Ryba wrote his Czech Christmas Mass in 1796. it incorporates traditional Czech carols and uses the Czech language to tell the Christmas story. Performing the work has become a holiday tradition in Bohemia, and is frequently performed throughout Eastern Europe. Although Ryba wrote many masses and pastorales, the Ceská mše vánocní "Hej mistre!" his only work that's still heard today.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Vom Himmel Hoch

Mendelssohn is credited with reviving the music of Johann Sebastian Bach or at least bringing it back into the public consciousness. His deep study of J.S. Bach's music influenced his own work. This was especially true with Mendelssohn's choral works. The Christmas cantata "Vom Himmel hoch" is based on a hymn tune by Martin Luther. The treatment of the tune and the structure of the cantata show Bach's influence. "Vom Himmel hoch" was premiered in 1831 and remains a staple of the repertoire.

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) Christmas Eve: Orchestral Suite

Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov wrote the opera Noch' pered Rozhdestvom (Christmas Eve) in 1895. It was based on a popular short story by Nikolai Gogla. Rimsky-Korsakov was not the first -- three other composers, including Tchaikovsky -- had based an opera on the tale. The plot involves the Devil stealing the moon on Christmas Eve, and being thwarted by Vakula the blacksmith. It's perhaps least-Christmasy seasonal works in the seasonal repertoire. Rimsky-Korakov later created extracted an orchestral suite from the opera.

Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006) - Christmas Cantata

American composer Daniel Pinkham studied with Walter Piston, Aaron Copland, and E. Power Biggs. Pinkham was served as an organist and choir director. Although he's best remembered for his sacred compositions, Pinkham composed for orchestras, chamber groups, and solo music as well. The 1957 Christmas Cantata is one of Pinkham's most popular works.

Otto Albert Tichý (1890-1973) - Missa pastoralis in honorem Jesu Infantiis in Praga

Czech composer Otto Albert Tichý studied with Vincent d'Indy. In addition to teaching and composing, Tichý was also a professional organist. Tichý did extensive research on Gregorian chant, and was an expert on church music in general. Most of his compositions are sacred works for choirs, or solo organ music. His "Missa pastoralis in honorem Jesu Infantiis in Praga" is one of the few Tichý compositions still performed today.

#ClassicalChristmas Annotated List Week #1
#ClassicalChristmas Annotated List Week #2

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