While Russian Christmas Music was created by American composer Alfred Reed, it was written to convey the sounds of Eastern Orthodox liturgical music. He had only 16 days to come up with a piece that would supplement a Colorado concert's theme of improving Soviet-American relations.
On December 12, 1944, the first performance of Russian Christmas Music was nationally broadcast on NBC Radio. Today, it's one of the most popular and frequently performed pieces of concert band literature.
It was written as four sections, but is performed all together which lasts around 14-16 minutes. The opening section, Carol of the Little Russian Children, is based on a 16th century Russian Christmas carol and includes chimes, clarinets, and string bass. The second section is called Antiphonal Chant which is faster and louder, with trombones, trumpets, cornets, and then woodwinds.
Village Song is more gentle with English horn and flute solos, and the addition of bells. The fourth and final section is Cathedral Chorus which starts quietly, then builds to a climax with trombones and percussion, ending with a thundering finale.
Enjoy this famous, historical piece of music right now!