Christmas Music You Won’t Hear At The Shops

By Celia Casey - Wed 5 December 2018

Sick of hearing the same old Christmas tunes on repeat, but still want to get into the spirit of Christmas? Here’s our pick of seven Christmas works to listen to this festive season.

1. Gerald Finzi – In Terra Pax
One cold Christmas eve, the composer Gerald Finzi climbed up a church spire and listened to the Christmas bells ringing. He recalled this memorable experience in this nostalgic work, complete with chiming bells.

Click here to listen on Spotify

2. Handel – Messiah

Handel’s Messiah has been one of the most popular and frequently-performed choral works since its first ever performance 276 years ago. Although it was originally intended to be performed during Easter, it has become a longstanding Christmas tradition for many orchestras, including us! It includes a multitude of catchy tunes, such as the energetic ‘For unto us a child is born’, and its joyful ‘Hallelujah chorus’, will be sure to rouse your spirit.

Don’t miss Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Messiah on Saturday 8 December at 7.30pm in QPAC's Concert Hall. More information on this performance can be found here.

Click here to listen on Spotify

3. Bach – Christmas Oratorio

Another choral tradition is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, which runs for nearly three hours when performed in full. It begins with triumphant trumpets and elaborate oboes.


4. Schoenberg - Weihnachtsmusik (Christmas Music)

Schoenberg wrote a lot of very modern and not-so-tuneful music, but his Christmas Music is nothing like that. The main tune is based on a German carol, while in the strings you might be able to hear the well-known Silent Night.

Click here to listen on Spotify

5. Tchaikovsky – Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet is a mainstay on the Christmas calendar of many ballet companies. The ballet follows the story of Clara, who is gifted a wooden nutcracker for Christmas which then turns into a handsome prince. After the two escape the Mouse King they arrive at the Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Don’t miss Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s perform the festive score to Queensland Ballet's The Nutcracker, from 14 to 22 December 2018 in QPAC's Lyric Theatre. More information can be found here.

Click here to listen on Spotify

6. Britten – A Ceremony of Carols

Written for voices and harp, this pared-back work provides a unique take on carols and will provide a relaxing counterpoint to the Christmas rush. 

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7. Saint-Saëns - Oratorio de Noël (Christmas Oratorio)

Another subdued work that is perfect for some Christmas-time contemplation, is Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, also for voices and harp with the addition of strings.

Click here to listen on Spotify