Give your Christmas piano recital a memorable theme by focusing on the origins of each Christmas piece. The Christmas music that helps us celebrate the season today has a rich history to be shared. Traditional tunes, stories, poetry, and lyrics have been drawn together from throughout the Western world and shaped into the songs we know today.
Consider enhancing your “Christmas Around the World” Christmas piano recital by having students read a brief history of the song they are playing, or include some details in the program notes. Students and audience members alike will leave the recital freshly reminded that the joy of Christmas spans nations and languages.
This list of Christmas piano sheet music can get help build your international repertoire with a variety of international pieces. Download the free or paid sheet music, learn the lyrics, and even hear a sample by following the links below:
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Pat-a-Pan: Level 1 Piano Solo (French) The name “Pat-a-Pan” is meant to imitate the sound of the drum in this lively French carol, and that lyric remains the same in its original Burgundian, French, and English lyrics.
Good King Wenceslas: Level 1 Piano Solo (Czech/ Bohemian/ English/Finnish) This carol’s roots stretch into many countries: an Englishman wrote the lyrics based on the legend of a Duke of Bohemia (modern day Czech republic). Then, it was set to a traditional tune that can be traced back to Finland. Talk about a group effort!
We Three Kings: Level 1 Piano Solo (American) Although this Christmas song tells of visitors from the orient traveling to visit the Christ child, its origins are closer to home: New York.
Silent Night: Level 2 Piano Solo (Austrian) A broken church organ in Austria led to one of the most well-known and loved Christmas carols thanks to a poetic pastor and a quick-composing organist (who luckily also played guitar).
Away in a Manger: Level 3 Piano Solo (American) Although it is generally agreed that this peaceful cradle song was made in America, it actually gained popularity partly because it was incorrectly attributed to the German reformer Martin Luther for some time.
Oh Come, All Ye Faithful: Level 3 Piano Solo (Uncertain: Portuguese/English) The exact origin of both the original Latin lyrics and the tune are both in question, but a Portuguese king, Portuguese, German or Spanish monks, and an English hymn writer are a few of the possibilities.
Joy to the World: Level 3 Piano Solo (English) Yes, this is another English hymn (there are so many great ones!), but what song title better fits the theme of “Christmas Around the World”?
O Christmas Tree: Level 4 Piano Solo (German) This is one of the few carols that is sometimes still popularly heard in its native German (O Tannenbaum). The traditional song may not have originally been intended for Christmas, but it has become a holiday favorite.
Gesu Bambino: Level 4 Piano Solo (Italian) Almost exactly 100 years ago, an Italian composer gave the world this lesser-known but beautifully melodic carol.
He Is Born, The Divine Christ Child: Level 5 Piano Duet (French) This upbeat traditional French carol arranged as a piano duet would make a fun addition for two of your more advanced beginning students.
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