Copyright © 2018 by Jeremy Bell

Russian Christmas Waltz

Russian

Christmas Waltz

Jeremy Bell

Russian Christmas Waltz is a fantastic alternative to the standard Christmas repertoire in most catalogs. This light and bouncy piece, inspired by the song Once Upon a December from the movie Anastasia, provides multiple teaching opportunities such as explaining the history of a waltz and it's characteristic "oom-pa-pa" and the opportunity to to teach the melodic minor scale and why the notes change whether the scale is ascending or descending.  

This hauntingly beautiful work attempts to recreate the feeling of being at a royal party during a snowy Russian winter.  The contrasting sections take you through different areas of the party.  Starting at the hallway entrance, the piece softly opens with the brass creating a regal air of pomp and nobility and slowly builds, adding more instruments to the mix, as you process down the hall towards the grand ballroom where people dressed in their best attire eat, talk, and dance to folk music to celebrate the holiday as snow slowly falls outside.  The boyars were the highest ranking members of the aristocracy, and second only to the ruling princes or tsars.  They would dress in ornate robes and gowns like those pictured to the right.

In measure 81, the upper instruments drop out as the brass play over a pedal tone and the ringing from the chimes symbolize the bells of St. Basil's Cathedral far off in the distance.  The snare drum enters slightly later, giving a regal and almost militaristic grandeur to the section.  The piece fades as each couple gracefully leaves the dance floor. This exciting work is a wonderful addition for your next winter holiday concert that your students are sure to enjoy.

Russian Christmas Waltz is available for purchase through J.W. Pepper or Grand Mesa Music Publishers.

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