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05.12.2022
Did our favourite composers celebrate Christmas?
Mendelssohn seems to have enjoyed a festive celebration

We all know that many of the greatest composers wrote Christmas music which are still popular, like Bach’s Oratorio or Händel’s Messiah. But what did these musicians get up to during the festive season? And how did it inspire their work? Mendelssohn seems to have enjoyed a festive celebration, at least in 1843 when he wrote to his sister from Berlin. “Christmas Eve is to be kept at our home. The candles are just being put into the chandeliers in the blue room, where the Christmas tree is to stand tomorrow. On Christmas Day I have for the first time to conduct the music in the cathedral with orchestra. There is to be a new psalm of mine, ‘To our Salvation’ from Händel’s Messiah, a couple more new trifles of mine, and some chorals with trombone,” he wrote. On the contrary, Beethoven doesn’t seem to have cared much for Christmas, or any other religious festival. But whether he intended it or not, one of his most famous pieces, the 9th Symphony, seems to have become associated with the festive season in Japan. During December, orchestras routinely play back-to-back performances of his last symphony, with one local pianist describing it as the equivalent of “our jingle bells.”

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