About the Piece

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Christmas Overture appeared posthumously in 1925. Arranged by Sydney Baynes, it features God rest you merry, gentlemen, and Hark the herald angels sing, and is thought to have been put together from incidental music he wrote for a children’s play called The Forest of Wild Thyme. [from the publisher’s website]


2 Flutes
2 Clarinets in Bb
2 Bassoons
2 Horns in F
2 Trumpets in Bb
3 Trombones
Percussion (3 players: Tubular bells, Glockenspiel, Side Drum, Triangle, Cymbals, Bass Drum)

Score Preview:


Conductor’s note:

The Christmas Overture is an excellent substitution for Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival on any holiday concert. It isn’t difficult (certainly not more-so than the Anderson), and includes enough of the “good tunes” to be an audience pleaser.

About the Composer

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was born in London, the son of a West African father and English mother. Early in his life, his father, a doctor, unable to make a success in Britain, returned to Sierra Leone. The boy showed talent on the violin from the age of five, and by 1890, with generous backing from a Presbyterian choirmaster, entered the Royal College of Music, studying with Charles Villiers Stanford. Elgar called him “far and away the cleverest fellow going among the younger men”. The Hiawatha trilogy made his name and performances were so plentiful that with Mendelssohn’s Elijah it held second place only to Messiah in the hearts of choral societies the length of the country. He died in Croydon at the age of only 37 before his full potential as a composer could be fulfilled. [from the publisher’s website]

Performance Materials

Performance materials are available as a digital download from:


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