Berlioz’s Magical Christmas Tale (or ‘Sacred Trilogy’), The childhood of Christ, is one of the most famous pieces of festive classical music in the world.
However, As popular as it is, it is not the most famous contribution to the Christmas choral repertoire of 19th century France.
Six years earlier, Adolphe adam composed his “Midnight, Christians! Oh holy night has become a worldwide favorite.
For a fairly substantial festive listening – although a little shorter than The childhood of Christ – There are Saint-Saëns‘s Christmas Oratorio. Work in ten movements written in 1858 when the 23-year-old composer was organist at La Madeleine in Paris, it is written for soloists, choir, organ, harp and strings, and its style owes much to both Bach and Berlioz.
Many of Saint-Saëns’ contemporaries also wrote Christmas music, but on a much smaller scale. Try, for example, the charming of Gounod Christmas for female voices piano and organ ad lib, Guilmant’s Heart of jesus Child for soloist, choir and organ, Fauréis floating Christmas for voice and harmonium or, bursting into Belgium, Franck’s most thoughtful The Virgin at the crib for choir and organ (or piano).
Massenet‘s most famous festive offering is utter miserable – the main character in his 1887 opera Werther kills himself on Christmas Eve – so head to his The snow for solo voice and piano.
And finally, far from the vocal and choral world, there is Bizet’s Farandole L’Arlésienne Suite n ° 2, an orchestral framework of the old Christmas carol the Kings March.