Christmas through the ages

Christmas through the ages

Various Artists


Of all the seasons in the Christian Church year, Christmas has produced by far the most—and most joyous—music. The 2000-year-old story of Christ’s birth has provided a wealth of images to inspire composers and pictorial artists through the ages—angels, kings and shepherds, a star, animals around the manger, Mary and Joseph, and of course the baby Jesus himself; all have been the subject of countless songs and motets, cantatas and oratorios, organ, orchestral and piano pieces large and small, from the simplest carol to The Christmas Oratorio of Bach, Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ, and Messiaen’s Nativité du Seigneur for organ and Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus for solo piano. The mystical fact of the Nativity too, without pictorial aid, has given rise to an immense amount of music from the most exalted polyphony to exuberant Italian concerti grossi. Much of this music was written for liturgical purposes; most of it wasn’t, being written instead for secular enjoyment and celebration of the spiritual event.

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