A Christmas Liszt

December 23, 2011


Over the years I’ve accumulated a large repertory of Christmas organ works that have been more or less rotated through the annual celebrations that I’ve played for. After a few years of not doing much along that line, I decided this year, when I’m playing a Midnight Mass and two on Christmas Day, to come up with new-to-me — and possibly novel-to-others — music.

When I practiced this morning, I turned on my laptop recorder so that I could see what some of the pieces sounded like when not playing. When I got home and listened, I thought, “I haven’t done anything for the Liszt Bicentennial, so maybe I’ll post this odd little piece.” It may be worthwhile to post even this comparatively crude recording, since it’s Franz Liszt as you may not know him. This is no Hungarian Rhapsody or Les Preludes. It’s Liszt in a purposely naïve vein — composing for a granddaughter, as it happens. He has taken a 14th-century German carol, “In dulci jubilo,” added a classic German cradle-song ostinato, and somewhat contradicted the lullaby affect by his periodic markings of staccato and even marcato that make for comparatively rough rocking. But perhaps the reason why can be found in his title. Shepherds may not be the most gentle of nurses:

Dir Hirten an der Krippe (The Shepherds at the Crib) from Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas Tree), for piano or organ.


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