Christmas Oratorio

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A Christmas Oratorio is a work of church music that processes the biblical story of the birth of Jesus ( LkEU , MtEU ) or other religious texts connected with Christmas in the manner of an oratorio in a musical and dramatic way. If the term oratorio is used inconsistently as a musical generic term, this is all the more true for the term Christmas oratorio. As is customary in the oratorios, these are settings that combine several movements in alternation of choral movements , recitatives and arias with instrumental accompaniment to form a work for non-scenic performances . They can be performed in full or in part, or they can be interrupted by sermons. Sometimes the terms Christmas history or musical nativity play are used synonymously. The transitions to the Christmas cantata are fluid.


In the specialist literature it becomes clear that the term is strongly influenced by the Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach. Over 80 percent of the specialist literature on the keyword “Christmas Oratorio” refers to this work.

Among the better-known earlier works is the Historia of the Nativity by Heinrich Schütz, which is also known as the Christmas Oratorio. The form continued to be used and performed as a composition in the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the better-known works here is the Oratorio de Noël by Camille Saint-Saëns .

Among other things, Christmas histories and oratorios by the following composers have come down to us:

Composer / author plant year
Thomas Tallis Missa, Puer natus est nobis 1554
Rogier Michael Historia of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ: Christmas story 1602
Thomas Selle But it came to pass at the time op.10
Heinrich Schütz Historia of the Nativity 1660
Marc-Antoine Charpentier Pastorale sur la renaissance de NS Jésus-Christ 1670 (approx.)
Johann Schelle Actus Musicus on Weyh nights 1683
Johann Mattheson Several works are referred to as "Christmas Oratorio", including The Healing Birth and The Greatest Child 1715 or 1720
Johann Sebastian Bach Christmas Oratorio , the most famous Christmas Oratorio 1734
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel Christmas Oratorio 1728
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach The shepherds at the manger of Jesus disappeared until 1773
Georg Gebel d. J. Christmas Oratorio (HKR 843) 1748
Johann Heinrich role Oratorio on Christmas
Georg Philipp Telemann The shepherds at the manger in Bethlehem 1759
Gottfried August Homilius The shepherds' joy at the birth of Jesus
Carl Heinrich Graun Oratorio in Festum Nativitatis Christi
Jakub Jan Ryba Missa solemnis Festis Nativitatis DJCh. accomodata in linguam bohemicum musicam , Bohemian Shepherd's Mass 1796
Antonio Casimir Cartellieri Per celebrare la festività del Santissimo (also La celebre Natività del Redentore ), Christmas Oratorio 1806 (Vienna)
Hector Berlioz L'enfance you Christ 1853-1854
Camille Saint-Saëns Oratorio de Noël 1858
Friedrich Nietzsche Christmas Oratorio 1860-1861
Franz Liszt as the first part of the Christ Oratorio 1862-1866
Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger The Star of Bethlehem op. 164, Christmas cantata 1867?
Heinrich von Herzogenberg The Nativity , op.90, oratorio 1894
Engelbert Humperdinck Bübchen's Christmas Dream EHWV 136, melodramatic nativity play 1906
Richard Wetz A Christmas oratorio based on old German poems 1929
Frank Martin Cantata pour le temps de Noël 1929-1930
Hugo Distler The Christmas story op.10 1933
Benjamin Britten A Ceremony of Carols 1942
Arthur Honegger Une Cantate de Noël 1953
Wilhelm Hohn
Giselher Klebe Christmas Oratorio 1989
Matthias Drude Christmas Oratorio 1995-1996
Martín Palmeri Oratorio de Navidad 2003
Michael Stenov Christmas Oratorio op.11 2011

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Christmas Oratorio  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Günther Massenkeil: The oratorio. Arno Volk Verlag, Cologne 1970. p. 7
  2. Hans Joachim Marx: Roman Christmas Oratorios from the first half of the 18th century. In: Archives for Musicology . Steiner, Stuttgart, 1992, pp. 163-199
  3. ^ Günther Massenkeil:  Oratorio, On Terminology and Prehistory. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, factual part, Volume 7 (Myanmar Sources). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 1997, ISBN 3-7618-1108-X , Sp. 741–811 ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  4. ^ Repertoire International de Littérature Musicale . International Musicological Society, New York
  5. ^ Hans Joachim Moser: On the Christmas Oratorio by Heinrich Schütz. In: Musik & Kirche: Zeitschrift für Kirchenmusik , Volume 25, 1955, pp. 292–293; Bärenreiter, Kassel [u. a.].
  6. Helmut Loos: Christmas Oratorios of the 19th and 20th Centuries: The Christian Tradition in Competition with the Civic Festive Idea. In: Musica sacra: Journal for Catholic Church Music , official organ of the Cecilia Association in the service of the liturgy and the church music apostolate, Volume 121, 2001, 6 (Nov./Dec.), Pp. 5–8; Bärenreiter, Kassel.
  7. Volker Hagedorn: Christmas Oratorio: It doesn't always have to be Bach's brilliance and glory at Christmas . Zeit Online , December 7, 2014; accessed on March 8, 2020.
  8. Christian Ahrens: From accompanied and full-part recitative: Polyphonic recitatives in Gottfried Heinrich Stoelzel's Christmas Oratorio (1728) . In: Contributions to musical source research . VI: Contributions to the colloquia 2002–2003 . Heinrich Schütz House Research Center and Memorial, Bad Köstritz, 2005, pp. 209–228.
  9. ^ Peter Wollny:  Bach, Johann Christoph Friedrich, works, vocal music. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 1 (Aagard - Baez). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 1999, ISBN 3-7618-1111-X  ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  10. performance. In: Badische Zeitung , December 16, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2020
  11. ^ Maria-Elisabeth Brockhoff: Giselher Klebe's Christmas Oratorio op.101 (1989) . In: Festschrift Klaus Hortschansky for his 60th birthday . Schneider, Tutzing 1995, ISBN 3-7952-0822-X , pp. 581-592