We Wish You a Klezmer Christmas

From Wind Repertory Project
Lauren Bernofsky

Lauren Bernofsky (transcribed by composer)

General Info

Year: 2012 / 2019
Duration: c. 3:25
Difficulty: II-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: String Orchestra
Publisher: FJH Music Co.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $60.00   |   Score Only (print) - $6.00


  • Full Score
  • C Piccolo
  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Bassoon
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet I-II
  • Horn in F
  • Trombone I-II
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Timpani
  • Percussion, including:
*Bass Drum
*Crash Cymbals
*Ride Cymbal
*Snare Drum
*Suspended Cymbal
*Wood Block


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Not your typical Christmas arrangement, that's for sure! This colorful piece puts a new spin on traditional Christmas tunes with its klezmer (traditional East European Jewish folk music) style accompaniment. This creative combination reflects a common phenomenon today: families who celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah.

This piece borrows from several characteristic klezmer forms. The opening starts off with a doina (pronounced DOY-nuh), which is traditionally an improvised (and virtuosic) cadenza over a simple and slow-moving harmonic backdrop. If you listen carefully to this section, you can pick out parts of Jingle Bells. We Wish You a Merry Christmas has been set as a bulgar (also called a freylehk, pronounced FRAY-luch, with a soft "ch"), which is a lively circle dance with a characteristic rhythm that puts accents on beat one, the "and" of two, and four. For contrast, I chose a khosidl (pronounced CHUH-si-dl, with a soft "ch") for Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. This is a slower, more restrained dance. And what Jewish music would be complete without a "shout chorus"? That explains measures 54-55. I went for fast and happy with the ending, making Deck the Halls into a sher (pronounced SHARE). The traditional Jewish tune The Dreidel Song makes a cameo appearance right before the end.

The characteristic klezmer scales, which are minor (in the various forms of the minor scale), transform the melodies to sound Jewish, and the use of the Ahava Raba mode, with the wonderful augmented second, brings out the most recognizably Jewish flavor.

Thanks to my editor Brian Balmages for the inspiration of this piece. Although he knows I'm Jewish, he asked me to write a Christmas piece and came up with this creative concept. I hope bands will have as much fun playing the music as I did writing it.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer