Joyful Tunes: Best Instrumental Christmas Music Orchestras

Instrumental Christmas Music Orchestra

It’s time to play some jolly Christmas music since the holidays are almost here! For a lot of people, listening to orchestrations of beloved songs and carols throughout the holiday season is a must. Music has a way of instantly sparking nostalgia and putting you in the Christmas spirit.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best instrumental Christmas music orchestras that excel at capturing the holiday magic.

From Tchaiovsky’s Nutcracker Suite to new-age ensembles like Mannheim Steamroller, you’re bound to discover an orchestra to become a new tradition for you and your family!

Non-Syrupy Classical Christmas Orchestras

Let’s start with classical Christmas music. The classics never get old and composers from Bach to Tchaikovsky have created splendid instrumental orchestra pieces to celebrate the season.

European Early Classical Christmas Orchestras

For a traditional Christmas sound, turn to the early European classical greats. The warmth and cheerfulness of Archangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto perfectly encapsulates the Christmas spirit.

Corelli was one of the most prominent violinists and composers in late 17th-century Italy. His concerto “Fatto per la notte di Natale” (made for the night of Christmas) was specifically written for the holiday and ends with a pastoral finale meant to channel the wonder of the shepherds who visited baby Jesus.

Another early classical piece is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio composed for the Christmas of 1734. It was originally separated into six parts, with each part performed on separate feast days during the Christmas season. This joyous oratorio is a favorite next step for those who already love Handel’s Messiah.

Speaking of Handel’s Messiah, this iconic 1741 oratorio is one of the most beloved classical works of all time, largely thanks to its triumphant “Hallelujah Chorus.” It has been a cherished Christmas tradition for hundreds of years to perform the Messiah during the holidays.

Even if you’ve heard it before, the Messiah still can move you and fill you with the spirit of Christmas.

Later Romantic Classical Christmas Orchestras

Christmas Oratorio performed by Symphony Orchestra and chorus of the Kharkov Philharmonic
“Christmas Oratorio” by Metropolitan Hilarion

For a more romantic take on classical Christmas music, look to these 19th-century composers:

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet contains some of the most famous pieces of Christmas music, like the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Russian Dance.”

It depicts a young girl’s Christmas Eve and her magical adventures. Though it wasn’t always a Christmastime staple, it has become a beloved part of the holidays thanks to traditions started in the 1950s.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Christmas Eve Suite comes from his opera “Christmas Eve” and includes wild music meant to represent the character Vakula riding the devil’s back through the sky to fetch a special gift for his love. Definitely a magical Christmas vibe!

Finally, English composer Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves takes the traditional English folk song “Greensleeves” and weaves it into a gorgeous fantasia that feels perfect for quiet winter nights. Pair it with his Fantasia on Christmas Carols for double the cozy pleasure.

Traditional Christmas Caroling Orchestras

What’s Christmas without carols? For the ultimate holiday nostalgia, check out these orchestra renditions of your favorite traditional Christmas songs and hymns.

Early Traditional Christmas Carol Orchestras

Liszt’s Christmas Tree Suite was written in the 1880s for his young granddaughter born on Christmas Eve. It gently incorporates carols like “Good Christian Men Rejoice” and makes for excellent fireside listening.

For choral Christmas music, Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël is a quick but delightful French Christmas oratorio written specifically for a Christmas Day performance in 1858. It has particularly lovely harp accompaniments to classic French carols.

Modern Traditional Christmas Carol Orchestras

English composers take the Christmas cake when it comes to carol orchestrations.

Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols sets gorgeous Middle English poem carol texts. It also contains one of the loveliest harp parts around.

Poulenc’s Four Motets for Christmastime puts a modern spin on classic Christmas motets. The acapella choral singing has an otherworldly impact.

Unique Christmas Music Orchestras

Jazzy Christmas Music Orchestra

If you’re tired of run-of-the-mill Christmas tunes, explore these unique orchestral takes on the holiday.

Jazzy Christmas Music Orchestras

For a swinging, snappy Christmas soundtrack, you can’t go wrong with Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn’s Nutcracker Suite. These two jazz legends took Tchaikovsky’s music to new heights in this clever 1960 reinterpretation.

Eastern European Christmas Music Orchestras

Christmas music takes on regional flair depending on where you are in the world. For festive holidays reminiscent of old-world Eastern Europe, listen to music from Ukrainian Christmas orchestras.

The folk band Gerdan offers rich, emotive arrangements of Ukrainian Christmas songs and instrumentals meant to encapsulate the resilience and hope of the human spirit.

Best New Age Christmas Orchestras

New age music tapped into the desire for sweeping, cinematic holiday music that could play as the soundtrack to your ideal Hallmark movie Christmas.

Some of the biggest names defining this joyful instrumental Christmas music are:

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas became an instant classic by mixing Renaissance instruments with modern rock. Its delightfully synth-heavy sounds scream holiday.

Canadian Brass Christmas puts a brass band twist on Christmas favorites for a bold and spirited energy.

Lastly, Musica Antiqua Christmas delivers medieval carols with flutes, strings, and light percussion for Christmas mood music from the distant past.

Final Words

As you can see, there is a splendid world of instrumental Christmas orchestra music to explore beyond just the holiday pop concert.

Hopefully, this article showed you a few new ensembles and pieces to enjoy. May your days be merry and bright with this glorious Christmas music!

About the Author

Guitar Enthusiast | + posts

Team Guitar Top Review Talk about Guitars! We are a group of friends that bonded over their shared love of playing guitar. We all have different backgrounds and experiences with music, but we share a passion for writing about the things that we love.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top