What do you play at Christmas?

December 18, 2018, 6:05 PM · Beside the obvious traditional XMas songs that we all hear throughout the season (like what you get in the typical 101 XMas songs books), what repertoire do you play for Xmas?

Replies (14)

December 18, 2018, 7:29 PM · Not what you're looking for, but I had to play, with my orchestra, in two mega-church concerts. Talk about cheesy music. And the light show. I am still recovering.
December 18, 2018, 8:06 PM · Heh. I was going to say, "Whatever I get paid to play."

Corelli Christmas Concerto is a favorite for Christmas Eve.

December 18, 2018, 8:52 PM · The Corelli is super easy, like Suzuki Book 3 level. It's a Concerto Grosso type of piece, so there are 1st-violin, 2nd-violin and cello solo parts in addition to string orchestra. It's not phenomenally interesting but it has familiar and charming themes. (I have a plan to rescore the piece such that the two treble solos are played by two violas, because otherwise the violas contribute essentially nothing.) There is also "The Gift" by William Hofeldt and other pieces that have themes that can be linked to Christmas. Our community orchestra also often includes "Boreas" by Todd Parrish. All these pieces are very easy. Any high school orchestra could sight-read them.

What I have noticed with 'holiday concerts' is that essentially any kind of Baroque period music somehow fits.

Edited: December 19, 2018, 1:52 AM · I've played the Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves around Christmas three times in the last five years, with two different orchestras. I've played Delius's Sleigh Ride at least three times around Christmas as well, though not in as short a timeframe.

Another piece I've both performed and heard other people perform around Christmas is Handel's Organ Concerto No. 13 in F major ("The Cuckoo and the Nightingale"). Paul's observation seems correct: most Baroque music works nicely.

At one point, a community orchestras I played in did a "Sleigh Ride-a-palooza": we played the Mozart "Sleigh Ride" German Dance, Delius's Sleigh Ride, the Troika from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite, and finally Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, in succession.

December 19, 2018, 10:31 AM · We have an annual "blue Christmas" service in my church chapel: contemplative, comforting, designed for those who are struggling around the holidays. I have historically played this with our church music director–-usually a mix of Taize music, maybe "Spiegel im Spiegel" at the beginning, and (last year) an improvisation on "O Come O Come Emmanuel" (which is probably my single favorite advent hymn).
Edited: December 19, 2018, 11:53 AM ·
What do you play at Christmas?
- The piano.

Jokes aside, for two straight years I've just played 'Silent Night' and (mis)improvised two or three traditional carols from my country. Next year I will prepare something better... specially after reading Paul Deck's comment saying Corelli is like Suzuki 3 level (I could play it!)

December 19, 2018, 3:50 PM · I recently purchased some Christmas music from


Don't have enough time this year but plan to get a few of these down for next year. They look like they will be enjoyable.

Edited: December 19, 2018, 4:05 PM · Episcopal Hymnody (since I am a "Cradle Episcopalian"). All for the entertainment of my wife and the cats (who, based on the time of day I usually play, consider my playing to be: Pre Dinner Music)

During the season of Advent I play Advent Hymns, then Christmas, then Epiphany. When Lent starts, the hymnal gets closed till next advent or if/when the church wants me to play the descant line of some hymn.

FWIW: Over 40 years ago playing this music was my primary goal in starting violin lessons. A lot has changed since then.

December 19, 2018, 5:25 PM · I played the first five Rosary Sonatas and the last one at my old church. A few years ago, I saw on v.com a book of unaccompanied Christmas songs, and I'll play those sometimes. They're nice. But I also do the fake book with a pianist too.
December 19, 2018, 8:17 PM · Corelli Christmas Concerto is a must
December 23, 2018, 1:05 PM · On one quartet gig around Xmas, one of the members brought in some carols arrangedfor quartet, so we read them.
December 23, 2018, 2:13 PM · For our town's annual Christmas small string orchestra concerts, we run out of appropriate repertoire rather quickly. One selection not mentioned yet: Charpentier, Noels , transcriptions of less famous French carols, for strings, two flutes or recorders, optional organ.
December 23, 2018, 2:22 PM · How about playing Porky Pig's rendition of "Blue Christmas?


December 23, 2018, 3:57 PM · On one quartet gig around Xmas, one of the members brought in some carols arrangedfor quartet, so we read them.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Warchal Metronome

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop