commentary to opus 13b

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Christmas Suite for Chamber Orchestra, op. 13b (1950)

I. Andante

II. Allegro con brio

III. "Pastorale"

IV. Scherzando

V. Finale (Passacaglia)

 

Orchestra: 1.1.1.1 - 1.1.0.0 - Strings

Duration: 13 Minutes

Publisher: Schott Music
Score: Con 256 / ISMN: M-001-15144-3
Parts: Con 256-50

I. II.III.IV.V.



Foreword (Schott Music Con 256)

"Just imagine, in addition to everything else, a few days ago I received a commission from SWF [Southwest German Radio] to compose a Christmas work for orchestra. " This was an extract from a letter which Bertold Hummel wrote in October 1950 to his future wife shortly after they had fallen in love. The Christmas Suite, completed on his 25th birthday, was not only his first commissioned work, but also his first ever composition for orchestra. The suite was subsequently broadcast on SWF on 28 December 1950 during an afternoon Christmas concert.
All five movements of this nimble-footed work convey Bertold Hummel's enthusiasm during the composition of the suite. He skilfully interweaves well-known Christmas melodies with a confident compositional technique and great wit. The chorale Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her [From Heaven Above to Earth I Come] for example forms a counterpoint to In duci jubilo (1st movement), as a cheeky trumpet signal (2nd movement) and also exultantly in the Finale over a passacaglia. The well-known carols Es ist ein Ros entsprungen [A Spotless Rose is Growing] (2nd movement) and Vom Himmel hoch, o Englein kommt [A Little Child There Is Ybore] (3rd movement) emphasise the celebratory character of the composition while the Scherzando with the lively Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann [Tomorrow Santa Claus will come] (based on the French children's song Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman) creates the atmosphere of a joyous Christmas season.
Young listeners will also have fun in recognising the well-known melodies in this entertaining work, therefore guaranteeing it a place not only in Christmas concerts but also in concerts for young people.

Martin Hummel
August 2007 Translation: Lindsay Chalmers-Gerbracht

 

See also: Christmas Music by Bertold Hummel

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