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Tinsel Tunes: A Classical Holiday Playlist

Time for a holiday and winter-themed playlist.
Phil Walter
Getty Images
Time for a holiday and winter-themed playlist.

The shopping's almost done. Menus are planned. The relatives are relatively under control.

Just one thing's missing from your holiday checklist — music.

Instead of fumbling through dusty CDs, LPs and cassettes, how about a click-of-the-mouse playlist of classical, and classy, holiday music?

There should be something here for just about everyone: plenty of Christmas carols, a few Hanukkah favorites and some off the beaten slope items.

Did you know that Arnold Schoenberg, the feared fomentor of honk and squeak serialism, wrote a piece for Christmas? Check out his sweet music for strings, piano and harmonium.

For your snowy Currier & Ives scenes, Tchaikovsky is your man. His First Symphony, called "Winter Dreams," and his piano postcard for the month of December, "Christmas," conjure up white hills and warm fireplaces.

Then there are a few atmospheric pieces that, while not specifically holiday-themed, just sound right for the season — from Andreas Scholl's beautiful account of "King Henry" and the opening of Mahler's Fourth Symphony, to Bach's beloved "Wachet auf" and Sibelius' Rakastava.

So spread a little extra cheer this holiday season, take time to reflect, and listen to a lot more music. Happy Holidays!

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.