The Best Classical Music for the Holidays

christmas classicalIt’s that time of year again. The turkey’s in the oven and we’ve broken out the winter coat.

If you haven’t started already, soon you’ll be in the mall shopping amongst a throng of red and green ornaments, and a pudgy man with a white beard.

While you’re ambling around all those department stores, you’re bound to hear a “wide variety” of the same 15 songs over and over again.

For any music fan out there, it can be difficult to make it through those endless iterations of Jingle Bells, but where else can you turn to find good holiday music?

The Classics. Here’s a few of the top Christmas songs of all time, although you’re not likely to hear them on the radio (unless you listen to NPR).

Handel’s Messiah

An epic 3 hour long work, Handel’s Messiah is perhaps one of the most famous pieces of classical music that’s rarely played in it’s entirety.

The work is a long chronicle celebrating the life of Christ, from the announcement of His coming through the Resurrection.

Typically played around Christmas and Easter, you’re bound to hear a few excerpts of the work sprinkled here and there, and many churches even put on a casual rendition of selection from Handel’s magnum opus.

For a more enlightened listening, try sitting down for a full length recording, and hear a side of this piece you’ve never before imagined.

Bach Christmas Oratorio

Another Christmas classic, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is a piece you will probably recognize by ear, and not by name.

Far from Bach’s most famous work, it is true to his style and has a number of characteristic elements that resurface year after year in concert halls, but not in the mall or on the radio.

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

Last but most certainly not least is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

Probably the most popular and widely known ballet of all time, The Nutcracker is one of the rare classical greats that you can hear on dozens of popular albums.

What you might not know, however, is that those famous bits, which are often arranged into a short “suite” capturing the main themes, is only a fraction of splendor of this great work.

Like Messiah, The Nutcracker is several hours long, and deserves a full listen in and of itself.

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