Tune of the Day: Carol of the Bells
This choral miniature work was originally composed by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych. Throughout the composition, Leontovych used a four note motif as an ostinato which was taken from an ancient pagan Ukrainian New Year's chant known as “Shchedryk”. The original work was intended to be sung a cappella (that is, without accompaniment).
The “Carol of the Bells” was premiered in 1916 by a choral group made up of students at Kiev University. It was introduced to Western audiences by the Ukrainian National Chorus during its concert tour of Europe and the Americas, where it premiered in the United States in October 1921 at Carnegie Hall. It was later adapted into an English language version in the 1930s. An alternate English version, “Ring, Christmas Bells”, with more explicitly Nativity-based lyrics, was written in 1947, and is also widely performed.