I have always heard that campfire stories should always be accompanied by music. To that end, here is a song from the songbook “Original Piano Duets for American Composers.” It is titled Around the Campfire. You may have heard another version if you were here yesterday.
And here is another song from the same book, titled Village Festival. I took creative license and named it Festival of Lights. I am not sure why.
And today’s song is number 67 in the countdown of classical music. It is from the opera entitled Hansel and Gretel by Englebert Humperdinck (1854-1921), who described it as a Märchenoper (fairy-tale opera). The libretto was written by Humperdinck’s sister, Adelheid Wette, based on the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”. It is much admired for its folk music-inspired themes, one of the most famous being the “Abendsegen” (“Evening Benediction”) from act 2.
The idea for the opera was proposed to Humperdinck by his sister, who approached him about writing music for songs that she had written for her children for Christmas based on “Hansel and Gretel”. After several revisions, the musical sketches and the songs were turned into a full-scale opera.
Humperdinck composed Hansel and Gretel in Frankfurt in 1891 and 1892. The opera was first performed in the Hoftheater in Weimar on 23 December 1893, conducted by Richard Strauss (wow!). It has been associated with Christmas since its earliest performances and today it is still most often performed at Christmas time.