One week to the big day! Here’s a rousing symphony to get us in the mood.
Victor Hely-Hutchinson (1901–1947) was born, appropriately enough, on Boxing Day, albeit in the sunny climes of Cape Town (where his father was the last British Governor of Cape Colony). The family moved back to England, and Hely-Hutchinson studied at the Royal College of Music, taking conducting lessons from Adrian Boult.
Much of his career was with the BBC, and it’s easy to see why he might write a piece of orchestral music to be performed at Christmas, playing to Aunty’s incessant search for new ways of celebrating the season.
His Carol Symphony was first performed at a Prom concert (back in the old Queen’s Hall days) in 1929; it’s a four movement work, each movement consisting of a set of variations (some in the style of a particular composer) on one or more Christmas carols (O Come, All Ye Faithful; God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen; Coventry Carol/The First Nowell; Here We Come A-Wassailing).
Here’s the complete symphony, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra under Gavin Sutherland.