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Pachelbel's Christmas A Merry Melange for Orchestra or Brass Quintet

In December 1986, I became amused that one of the countermelodies in Pachelbel's Canon sounds a lot like Jolly Old St. Nicholas. It soon occured to me that Jingle Bells also fits over the Pachelbel chord progression, and with a little speeding up or slowing down, so do some other carols. Before long I had a list and created Pachelbel's Christmas, placing 44 familiar holiday tunes over the Pachelbel Canon, first keeping all the Christmas music in strict canon (echoing entrances like a round), and later letting the tunes flow as a free-for-all quodlibet.

The 1986 original was for brass quintet, which seemed like the appropriate sound for a Christmas medley. Over the years I realized the uniform sound quality of this ensemble was hiding the contrasting melodies, and that creating an orchestra version would let the countermelodies stand out more, as well as being very suitable for Christmas Pops concerts. This new version was created in February 2005.

The brass quintet version was premiered by the Seacoast Brass (southern NJ) in December 1986. The orchestra version was premiered by Sheldon Bair conducting the Susquehanna Symphony (Bel Air, MD) in December 2005.



last updated February 20, 2020