Archive for the ‘Christmas Music’ Category
Sing In Exultation! was commissioned by the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra for use as a sing-along number for their Christmas concerts. The original version was written in 2002.
Though intended as a sing-along, this piece can also be performed by orchestra alone (for example, as a concert opener). There is also a choral score available as a free download from www.swanswingpress.com, which may be used if a chorus is available, either in conjunction with audience participation or not.
This revised version dates from 2010. Apart from minor corrections, it is for the most part the same as the original. The only really substantial change occurs in measures 68-71. The original instrumentation of that passage sounded unpleasantly thin (at least to my ears) when performed with audience participation. Accordingly, optional parts for lower brass and winds were added, which should be used when the piece is performed as a sing-along (in which case, flutes and oboe should not play). In all other situations, the original instrumentation for this passage should be used.
2.p.2.Eh.2.bcl.2 / 22.214.171.124. / T 3P / harp / strings
- CO-SIE11 Performance set (includes full score) $225.00
LEON JESSEL (1871-1942) was known in his day as one of the most successful German composers of operetta and Singspielen. He was also a prolific composer of light orchestral works and salon pieces.
Jessel was born in the eastern German city of Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland), the son of a Jewish merchant and his American-born wife. At 17, he left school to pursue a career in the musical theater, and after several years of study, took a succession of conducting jobs in various German cities. From 1899 to 1911, he settled in Lübeck, where he was Kappelmeister at the Wilhelm Theater, after which he settled permanently in Berlin.
Jessel’s greatest success was the operetta Schwartzwaldmädel (Black Forest Girl), which premiered in Berlin in 1917. Within 10 years, it had run for 900 performances at the Komische Oper in Berlin as well as receiving nearly 6000 performances elsewhere in Germany and abroad. The 1921 operetta Die Postmeisterin (The Postmistress) was nearly as successful.
Jessel’s ideological outlook was conservative and nationalistic, which is reflected in his operettas. His second wife Anna joined the Nazi party in 1932, and Schwartzwaldmädel was reportedly a favorite of both Hitler and Himmler. Though a Jew by birth, Jessel had converted to Christianity in 1894, and fully expected to be accepted by the authorities even after the Nazis rose to power. Instead, performances of his music were banned in 1933, and he was forced out of all public positions. On December 15, 1941, he was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, and died on January 4, 1942 in the Berlin Jewish Hospital.
After the Nazi era ended, Jessel’s stage music began to be heard in Germany again. Outside of Germany, his best-known work by far is Die Parade der Zinnsoldaten, known in the English-speaking world as Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (although “tin soldiers” would be a more accurate translation), which was published as a piano piece in 1897, followed by a version for small theater orchestra in 1905.
This edition generally follows the 1905 orchestral version, with the addition of optional instrumentation to make the work playable by full symphony orchestra.
- OJ-PWS1 Score $12.50
Duration: approx. 3 minutes
Orchestra set includes original instrumentation and expanded instrumentation.
- original instrumentation: 126.96.36.199. / 188.8.131.52. / 3P / A Sax, T Sax (opt.) / banjo (opt.) / strings
- expanded instrumentation: 2.p.2.2.bcl.2. / 184.108.40.206. / T 3P / A sax, T sax (opt) / banjo (opt.) / strings
The original version of Carol of the Birds was written for the 2007 Garritan Community Christmas Christmas Album (which can be heard here).
The community of users of Gary Garritan’s popular Garritan Personal Orchestra sample library have gotten together to create an annual Christmas CD. I’ve contributed pieces to most of them, most of which have been adaptations of arrangements I had already done for the concert world. But in 2007, I decided to do a new arrangement specifically for the GPO CD.
I had wanted to do something with the lovely Catalunian song Carol of the Birds for a long time, and it seemed to be well suited for a group of string instruments. So my idea was to create an arrangement using all of Garritan’s solo strings, which included 8 solo instruments as part of GPO, as well as the stand-alone Stradivarius Violin and Gofriller Cello (now discontinued). The result was a piece for 4 violins, viola, 4 cellos, and bass, which can be still be heard on the GPO Christmas CD linked above, but has (so far) never been performed by live instrumentalists.
I planned all along to transcribe it for string orchestra, and found time to do it in 2010. The string orchestra version can be previewed here. (Please contact me if you’re interested in the first version).
I have three arrangements of this Christmas carol available.
The first two are actually different versions of the same arrangment, done in 2000. The first is for SSA chorus (C-AWH12) and the other for SATB (C-AWH11). Obviously there are some differences in the choral parts, but the piano part is the same in both versions, and the orchestral parts (C-AWH21) will work with either one.
The third arrangement, from 2008, is a completely new arrangement. I was requested to come up with something “in the Joan Sutherland tradition,” which I took to mean something in an “operatic” style, including a bit of coloratura at the end. Likewise, the orchestral part is fairly elaborate and occasionally demanding.