Elvey – Christmas Bells

CD135 3 flutes (3rd flute alto ad lib) and bass flute (or alto or clarinet or any bass clef instrument) Grade 3-5 2′ 35″

Sir George Job Elvey was an organist and composer who studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He became organist at St George’s, Windsor in 1835, staying there until he retired. In 1840 he became a D.Mus at Oxford and was knighted in 1871.

It is tempting to speculate that, since Elvey was married four times, his effective portrayal of the bells in this piece was derived from a practical knowledge of tintinnabulation gained from frequent visits to church!

Elvey wrote mainly religious music, composing forty-five anthems, with his most well known contribution to the genre being the hymn tune Crown Him With Many Crowns. His conservative, Handelian style ensured that, whilst the music was out of date as soon as it was written, mannerisms of the period were avoided, thus paradoxically lending it a perennial quality.

This arrangement of Christmas Bells was made from the piano solo original, which can be found in News Chronicle Christmastide Melodies published in 1935 (endorsed by Malcolm Sargent). The musical interest is shared between all parts. Although the first flute goes up to A3 and thus needs a Grade V-VI level, players of Grade III-IV ability can quite easily manage the other parts.

To be really effective the dynamic markings must be strictly observed and whoever has the tune at any point should be allowed to sing it out.

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