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Alfred Reed: "Russian Christmas Music"

November 6, 2015

Russian Christmas Music

Alfred Reed

Born January 25, 1921, New York, New York

Died September 17, 2005, Miami, Florida

Instrumentation: Symphonic Band

Duration: 15 minutes

Composed: 1944-1946

 

Alfred Reed, Russian Christmas Music

Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra

 

The composer writes, “Originally written in November, 1944, Russian Christmas Music was first performed in December of that year at a special concert in Denver, Colorado, by a select group of musicians from five of the leading Service Bands stationed in that area. Two year later, the music was revised and somewhat enlarged, and in this form was one of the three prize-winning works in the 1947 Columbia University contest for new, serious music for the Symphonic Band. First performances of this second version subsequently took place in 1948; the first, by the Juilliard Band under Donald I. Moore, and the second by the Syracuse University Symphonic Band under Harwood Simmons, to whom the work was dedicated.

 

An ancient Russian Christmas Carol (“Carol of the Little Russian Children”), together with a good deal of original material and some motivic elements derived from the liturgical music of the Eastern Orthodox Church, forms the basis for this musical impression of Old Russia during the jubilant Christmas season. Although cast in the form of a single, continuous movement, four distinct sections may be easily recognized, which the composer originally sub-titled: Children’s Carol, Antiphonal Chant, Village Song, and the closing Cathedral Chorus.”

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