The most beautiful Christmas pieces to play on the violin
Only a couple of weeks left before the festivities! In this article, we're offering you a selection of the most beautiful Christmas carols and songs to play on the violin. For each piece, we have included a link to the sheet music which is accessible to violinists of all levels.
Explore too our Collections of the most beautiful Christmas music for the violin classified by level and available with a 20% to 30% discount.
1. O Holy Night
Very often performed during Midnight Mass on 24 December, it was first written for voices and keyboard. The singer Emily Laurey is said to have been the first woman to sing this religious hymn, first known as Adam's Noël, in 1847.
Today, this song remains an unmissable part of the Christmas festivities and it can be found in many forms.
Who is not familiar with the versions by Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra, which make us dive happily into the Christmas atmosphere? However, it wasn't originally a Christmas song, but a love song.
Recorded by Vaughn Monroe for the first time in 1945, it was quickly propelled to the top of the sales charts in the United States. Since that time, the greatest artists have not stopped performing it all over the world.
3. Ave Maria
Among the most famous hymns to the Virgin Mary, it was originally "Ellen's Third Song" (Ellens Gesang III, Hymne an die Jungfrau), written in 1825 to a poem by Sir Walter Scott, The Lady of the Lake (1810), whose story unfolds in Scotland at the end of the Middle Ages.
This splendid hymn has been re-transcribed very often for various instruments, played solo or with an accompaniment.
Another famous Christmas song, "Jingle Bells" was published for the first time in 1857 under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" and was traditionally played at Thanksgiving, before becoming a great Christmas classic.
And for an anecdote, it is said to have been the first song played in space in December 1965. It has since been performed by more than a hundred musicians.
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is an air composed in 1944 by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the musical film Meet me in St Louis (The Missouri Song). The first version was performed by Judy Garland.
This title was also one of the most popular songs in the United States during the Second World War.
The cover version of this Christmas song by Frank Sinatra, with modified lyrics, remains without doubt the most well-known version all over the world. During the years 2000, it was one of the most-played pieces of music for Christmas parties.
Explore the Tomplay sheet music of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for the violin and piano accompaniment and take advantage of the many Tomplay features to work on the piece in the best conditions.
The most popular Christmas carol in North America, "Joy to the World" is a song inspired by a poem by the British writer Isaac Watts. It is taken from a collection of poems published in 1713, of which many find their roots in the Psalms from the Bible.
The first musical version was written by Lowel Masson in 1839 to an old melody. It was a popular melody, probably by the composer Handel: indeed, the theme of the chorus seems to correspond with the orchestral overture and accompaniment to the recitative Comfort ye from Messiah and the first four notes are inspired by Glory to God and Lift up your heads from the same oratorio.
"Joy to the World" was originally not a Christmas song, but a hymn glorifying the coming of Christ at the end of time.
Explore the Tomplay sheet music of "Joy to the World" for the violin with a piano recording: start the accompaniment, which will make your sheet music scroll, and play the violin part accompanied by the piano!
Played for the first time on the eve of 24 December 1818 in a village close to Salzburg, it is one of the most popular carols in German, known as "Stille Nacht".
Very much like a lullaby in its musicality and its lyrics describing the Child Jesus sleeping deeply, it was composed in very particular circumstances: not being able to use the organ owing to mice (or rust), the poem was put to music by the teacher and organist of the neighbouring town, Franz Xaver Gruber, to a guitar accompaniment. Little did the authors know the success this Christmas carol would have throughout the centuries...
Of German origin (under the name "O Tannenbaum"), this air was inspired by a piece of traditional music dating from the XVIth century. It has travelled through time and in 1819 became a love song written by the composer Joachim August Zarnack, in which the green of the tree is associated with fidelity. It was only in 1824 that the version we all know, composed by Ernst Anschütz, was born!
But its travels don't stop there. The melody crossed the seas during the XIXth century. This German hymn became the hymn of Maryland in 1861, then that of Florida for a short time, then again a popular song during the Second World War.
"O Christmas Tree" remains today a joyful, festive song which symbolises the end of the year, marking the arrival of the conifer into our homes. It has been covered by many musicians and various groups.
Under its tender melodies, this song hides the deep melancholy of an immigrant freshly arrived in the United States, borne up by the American Dream. It became a huge hit after its first airing on NBC Radio on Christmas Day 1941, sung by the great star Bing Crosby.
"White Christmas" has been one of the most widely-sold songs in history. Recorded in 1942 for the film Holiday Inn, more than 50 million copies of its record have been sold and sales can be increased 100 million times if the other versions which have been recorded since are included.
It remains one of the Christmas classics most covered by other great artists, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald, the Beach Boys, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and many others yet!
Explore the Tomplay sheet music of "White Christmas" for the violin and piano accompaniment. You can work on some passages in a loop, annotate your score and print it with your annotations if you wish!
This folk song is one of the rare ones highlighting Christmas and the New Year. In fact, it was a Christmas carol sung by choirs going from house to house, singing for the country nobility who would offer them sweets in return.
The composer and conductor Arthur Warrell arranged the melody for his own Madrigal Singers at the University of Bristol and played it with them in concert in December 1935. Published by the Oxford University Press under the title "A Merry Christmas" it became famous the world over!
Explore the Tomplay sheet music of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" for the violin and piano accompaniment. Play the violin part accompanied by the professional recording of the piano part synchronised with the sheet music.
This time, it's a traditional Welsh song for Christmas and Yule (the pre-Christian celebration of the winter solstice in Scandinavian and Germanic countries).
Its original name, dating from the XVIth century, was Nos Galan, which means New Year. The English lyrics only appeared in 1862, written by the Scots musician Thomas Oliphant.
Published for the first time in 1794 by the musician Edward Jones, "Deck the Halls" was also taken up by great composers such as W.A. Mozart in 1789 in his Piano Sonata No. 18 and the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn in 1803.
It's a popular melody which has been able to cross the ages and is still played and sung today!
Explore the Tomplay sheet music of "Deck the Halls" for the violin and piano accompaniment. Take advantage of the many Tomplay features to practise under the best conditions, and why not play one of the pieces in this article for your next Christmas or New Year party?