Christmas Concerto

   A concerto intended to accompany Eucharistic adoration on Christmas Eve, originating in late-17th-century Italy. The Italian "concerto grosso" is an instrumental composition in several movements for large ensemble, typically strings with continuo, which contained a number of soloists, typically two violins and violoncello. To make it appropriate for a Christmas liturgy, composers included a "pastorale" movement, with 6/8 or 12/8 time signature that included drone effects in the bass and melodies in rocking parallel thirds and sixths in the high instruments. This texture recalled a peasant custom of providing bagpipe and woodwind music for re-enactments of the shepherds adoring the Christ child at the manger (St. Luke, Ch. 2). The pastorale ad libitum in Arcangelo Corelli’s (1653–1713) famous Op. 6, No. 8 (about 1690, pub. 1714), is the last movement, so that it may be omitted when the concerto is performed apart from Christmas. Other Christmas concertos include Giuseppe Torelli’s Op. 8, No. 6, Francesco Manfredini’s (1680– 1748) Op. 3, No. 12, and Pietro Antonio Locatelli’s (1695–1764) Op. 1, No. 8.
   See also Kuhnau, Johann; Opera.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

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