The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Merry Christmas from The Ear! Here is a rescued compilation of Baroque holiday music to remind us how technology brings us the gift of the past as well as the future. | December 25, 2013

READER SURVEY: What piece of classical music do you most look forward to hearing — or most dread hearing — when Christmas arrives each year? Leave a comment. The Ear wants to hear.

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Christmas!


A lot of people, both young and old, will be opening hi-tech gifts like smart phones, desk-top and laptop computers, and tablet computers and iPads, to say nothing of digital cameras, video recorders and games.

hi tech items

But even though we think of technology as pointing us toward the future, it is also good to realize that it can return us to the past.

After all, CDs, which are relatively cheap to make, have brought back many performers and composers whose work had disappeared off the radar screen and fallen into neglect.

Take today’s example.

It is an old and acclaimed apparently out-of-print compilation album of Baroque Christmas music that was originally a vinyl LP.

And hearing the unfamiliar can be fun and informative, as I recently learned again at the third annual Holiday Baroque Concert (below) given by Trevor Stephenson and the Madison Bach Musicians.

MBM Chelsea Morris Vivaldi Gloria Holiday 2013

Not everything has to be George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” or Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” or Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas” Concerto Grosso – as critic John W. Barker pointed out in his recent review for this blog (a link is below):

Anyway, someone has posted this old recording of a Baroque Christmas music album on YouTube, and the comments show that readers appreciate it.

You could stream it or run it through the computer as background music for gift-giving, or do even more focused listening.

I hope you enjoy it, especially since it features some rarely heard repertoire by Michael Praetorius, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Dietrich Buxtehude, Michael Haydn,  Charles Theodore Pachelbel (NOT the more familiar Johann Pachelbel of “Canon in D” fame, Johann Hermann Schein and Andreas Hammerschmidt. Here it is, at the bottom:

Merry Christmas, all!

And thank you for your gift to me of your readership of The Well-Tempered Ear.


  1. Franck’s Panis Angelicus. No matter who the performer is, it makes me cringe. How did it get identified with Christmas?

    Comment by Susan Fiore — December 26, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

  2. Merry Christmas Jake!

    Thanks for all your work on this site. It provides a great resource for the music community here.

    Robert Taylor

    Comment by Robert Taylor — December 25, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  3. Jacob,
    You asked which Christmas piece we most liked or most hated. I may have told you before that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony has been a tradition played EVERY December in Japan since first performed in a WW I German POW camp on Shikoku. I have only the highest regard for anything Beethoven, especially the 9th which has a brief but stirring 3d trombone solo in its finale, but after playing it SO many times and hearing it even more, even it eventually wears thin. Keep up the good work. And know that I pray for my soul-mate’s and your wife’s good health every night. I hope she’s feeling better. Cordially,
    Larry Retzack

    Comment by buppanasu — December 25, 2013 @ 2:27 am

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