A Wondrous Holiday Experience

The “Christmas Concerto” by the Father of the Concerto Grosso

Sometimes, when life gets a little too hectic, a dose of baroque music is a welcome salve.

Calm and refreshing, a peaceful respite, Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto” (Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6 no. 8) is just such a piece.

What is a Christmas concerto, you ask?

Its characteristics are twofold: first, it’s a concerto grosso, meaning it’s a piece for several soloists accompanied by an orchestra.

Second, one of the movements must be a Pastorale — music that recalls the shepherds of Bethlehem (watching their flocks by night, as it were).

Often, the Pastorale imitates the sounds of old Italian shepherds’ instruments, like various pipes and bagpipes one might hear in the Sicilian countryside.

Corelli’s Christmas Concerto

While practically every baroque composer wrote their own unique Christmas concerto, Corelli’s is one of the finest.

Widely recognized as the father of the concerto grosso, Corelli was a true master at his art, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the calm and lovely atmosphere he creates — and in a minor key, no less.

Corelli also saves his Pastorale for the final movement, a glittering jewel that sets off the rest of the piece.

Watch a performance of Corelli’s Christmas Concerto with the Accademia degli Astrusi, led by conductor Federico Ferri:

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