December 11, 2016
It’s the birthday of French composer Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869), whose oratorio L’enfance du Christ received its premiere in Paris on December 10, 1854. It tells the story of Mary and Joseph escaping to Egypt after King Herod orders the massacre of the innocents. This beautiful chorus, “L’adieu des bergers,” depicts the shepherds at Bethlehem bidding farewell to the holy family as they depart Judea for Egypt.
December 18, 2015
I’ve never been able to figure out how so many generic winter songs — “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Let it Snow,” etc. — came to be regarded as Christmas songs. It’s certainly not as if there’s any shortage of authentic Christmas music — i.e., music that actually has something to do with Christmas — in fact there is a positive embarrassment of riches in that department. I’m saving my favorites for the actual twelve days of Christmas, which don’t begin for another week. Right now it’s still Advent, and according to the calendar it’s still autumn… but the weather (at least where I live) being definitely wintery, a winter song seems appropriate… especially if it involves a performance by The King’s Singers.