Graduate Research Papers


An Analysis of and Conductor's Guide to Alfred Reed's Russian Christmas Music


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Reed, Alfred. Russian Christmas music;


In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Alfred Reed, staff arranger and copyist for the 529th Army Air Corps Band in Atlantic City, NJ, was invited to participate in a special concert in Denver, Colorado. There, a select group of musicians from several of the leading wind bands from across the country planned to premiere works by both American and Russian composers with the goal of strengthening relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Roy Harris organized the event, programming a transcription of a movement from his sixth symphony, titled "Gettysburg," as the American work. 1 The Russian work was to be Sergei Prokofiev's March op. 99, however, Harris discovered just two weeks before rehearsals were set to begin that Alfred Reed's Air Corps band had already premiered the Prokofiev work earlier that year. So, with little time left, Harris commissioned an original work from Reed, emulating Russian musical styles, to be premiered alongside Harris' work.

Alfred Reed completed Russian Christmas Music in just eleven days, followed by an additional two days for him and other staff arrangers to write out the parts for rehearsals. The work was premiered on December 12, 1944, and revised to its present form in the following years. Russian Christmas Music catapulted Alfred Reed to the forefront of composers of original music for wind band, and many of his over 100 subsequent compositions, including Greensleeves (1962), Othello (1977), The Hounds of Spring (1980), and El Camino Real (1985) reside in the standard repertoire for the ensemble.

This purpose of this paper is to present a historical and theoretical analysis of Russian Christmas Music along with informed suggestions for rehearsing and interpreting the work.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Music

First Advisor

Danny Galyn, Chair, Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (40 pages)



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