Cheer and Loathing: Holiday Music Poll

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday traditions tend to bring out strong emotional responses. And none do so more than the arrival of holiday music. How do these Yuletide offerings make you feel?

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Comments [58]

Steve from White Plains

On the whole, I find your holiday programing to be a nice balance. Seriously, you're doing a fine job and in a season where you can't please everyone, wiccans and athiests included, and, broadcasting in a city so diverse as to boggle the mind, you do a super job. That being said, please don't dare play "The Singing Dogs Sing Jingle Bells". I'll just have to throw my radio down the stairs....

Dec. 23 2010 11:02 AM
Andrea from Manhattan

It may be intolerant, but for me December is the worst month of the year on WQXR. You flood the air with Christmas music for the entire month... or more. WQXR is a "public" radio station, and I daresay the members of your audience are a huge mixture of many religions (and atheists). That means the regular programming should be as neutral as possible to encompass all listeners. (I thus loudly applaud your innovation of having a "special stream" of holiday music for those who do wish to hear lots of it. ) I don't object to a few instrumental pieces now and then, but you are constantly airing many deeply religious pieces, and it's only the first week of December. Frankly, I've begun to turn off the station. (I've prepared a pile of CD's to substitute.) For me, having to hear, "born is the king of Israel," "Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angels' voices," and other similar lyrics is insulting and infuriating! It's not enough just to play religious music, either. If the lyrics are not in English, the announcers [in a hushed and reverent tone] recite the translation so we don't miss the import of what we've heard. Sorry, but it feels a lot like proselytizing to me. And in between these pieces you request our financial support! My membership expires at the end of December, and at the moment, you are not inspiring my renewal.

Dec. 08 2010 01:21 AM
amy martin from Clifton NJ

To Concetta Nardone: My brother plays his 78 of Caruso singing Cantique de Noel every Christmas. He thinks it must be on some CD collection also. Can get you further info on it if you want.

Dec. 05 2010 03:06 PM
Nora from White Plains

I'm an old fashioned gal who prefers carols. You know, the ones that are sung in church. I have no use for songs about reindeers with lit up noses, snowmen, or Santa Claus Lane. Nor can I stand hearing - ad nauseum - Elvis' Blue Christmas. When I say I like carols - I don't mean the ones some fly-by-night pop stars sing to prove they can reach an octave or sustain a note. How do I keep my sanity during this time of year? I avoid shopping malls, and ask my coworkers to kindly use headphones.
But to hear an orchestra play "Jesu Bambino" or to hear the choir at my church sing the Coventry Carol fills me with peace.

Dec. 04 2010 10:50 AM
amy from Clifton NJ

I was shopping recently and the song "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Clalus" kept playing over and over in the store. Maddening, glad to get the purchase and out of there.
I love hearing carol "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" on WQXR. It really lifts my spirits and I never tire of that!

Dec. 04 2010 09:50 AM
S. Ebenezersson from South Pole

My all time fave Xmas piece is Britten's Ceremony of Carols. Two others are Respighi's Laud to the Nativity, which I hear all too rarely; and the even less often performed Honegger Christmas Cantata. Come to think of it, I've only ever heard that when I sang in it in 1975!
I love the ole timey music...I mean mediaeval musick...Lionheart's Tydings True is a fine disc. Anything by Palestrina and Monteverdi appropriate to the season. What if Mozart HAD written Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas? His father would have come to Vienna and beat him senseless!

Dec. 02 2010 11:12 PM
Germaine McGrath from Bernardsville, NJ

After Thanksgiving a smattering of Advent and Hanukah music should be played until Dec. 21 when the real Christmas music should start--carols, chants, choruses, brass ensembles, etc. This should not end until Jan. 6 with Epiphany/little Christmas. A time to celebrate!

Dec. 02 2010 02:08 PM
Patricia Horwitz from Oak Ridge, NJ

My favorite Christmas song was recorded back in the fifties by "The 60 French Girls" or the Les Djinns Singers - IL EST NE DIVIN ENFANT. My least favorite if DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR.

Dec. 02 2010 10:07 AM
Howard Marder from Manhattan

The best day of the year is December 26th because that is when you stop force feeding Christmas music into our ears. Bah humbug. Isn't there enough good music available that WQXR doesn't have to become like all the non-classical stations out there and try to make its listeners share in the false Christmas spirit?

Dec. 02 2010 06:52 AM
estelle from Brooklyn

Reading the comments of your listeners, I see that there is a world of Christmas music lovers out there, but also Christmas music haters. I like a few carols but most of them are tedious and over played. (I won't even consider horrible secular Xmas music like Frosty the Snowman.) There is so much sacred music out there that is wonderful and never or seldom broadcast. I'd like to recommend the Misa Luba and the Misa Criolla as music that is wonderful, suitable to the season and almost never heard.

Dec. 01 2010 09:16 PM
Mary E. Cadillac from Palisades Park, N.J.

I really like Holiday and Christmas music, secular and religious. I can, however, do without Grandma being run over and the little boy buying shoes on Christmas Eve. That said, my biggest objection is, why is always the SAME music which is played, ad nauseum. More music has been written about Christmas than about any other topic, save Love. Every recording artist from the 1930's forward, including artists who are of the Jewish faith, have recorded a Christmas album. There is a "wealth" of choices. Why is it always the same selections? And, because everything is preset on radio stations, and yes, even on Sirius, if listening through the day you will hear the cycle repeat and repeat. Please, some variety... different artists, european, latin, orchestras, etc... Thank you.

Dec. 01 2010 07:50 PM
Phee from NY

Nutcracker...As a former ballet dancer I can take Nutcracker about once a year.

Dec. 01 2010 07:44 PM
David Schmitt

"There is no Rose" - Gregg Smith Singers 1960 or so. 'Riu riu chiu' - Waverly Consort and Chanticleer. Personant Hodie' - Whose is best?
While the original 'Drummer boy' is good , the Crosby-Bowie version where 'every child' must be compelled to feel a certain way makes my skin crawl.

Dec. 01 2010 06:44 PM
Richard Matuszewski from Bloomfield, NJ

For me, the most beautiful Christmas song would be "Silent Night" (perhaps the most beautiful song for any time)! My least favorite - by far - is "Holly Jolly Christmas" (just typing it makes me cringe). This is followed by "Jingle Bell Rock" which doesn't rock at all! By the way, for all those who hate "Little Drummer Boy," try listening to the rendition by the young Joan Baez. It just might change your mind.

Dec. 01 2010 05:17 PM
mike mayo from chatham, nj

Virtually anything from the Modern Jazz Quartet's "Blues on Bach" would fit beautifully into the WQXR playlist at this time of year. Classical listeners unfamiliar with the 1974 album will be delighted.

Dec. 01 2010 09:40 AM
Ann Barth from Manhattan

The bedecked streets and stores give off plenty of holiday atmosphere. The holiday "spirit", truly that of shopping, is everywhere. In my neighborhood, Xmas started right after Halloween so I could do with a little forgetting on the radio. It doesn't have to permeate our airwaves as it does our streets!!
I can remember when Xmas started in the middle of December (people would be quietly shopping prudently all year round) and Thanksgiving was no big deal! Families got along better as a result . . .
If I date myself, then so I date myself!
Certain things (not most) WERE better once!

Dec. 01 2010 12:53 AM
Frank Feldman

Please play more dreary liturgical music, as long as it's polyphonic, and esp. if it's Elizabethan. Thank you. No Christmas Carols! :-(

Nov. 30 2010 10:50 PM
Mike Storms from Howard Beach, NY

Give me the traditional carols, :"O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night", "Joy to the World", etc., etc., sung by really competent choruses, beginning on or about December 22nd and ending no later than January 2nd, and I'll be happy. And throw in Parts I and II of the "Messiah."

Nov. 30 2010 04:57 PM
Mary Nowak-Sturkie from Helmetta, NJ

The music that really goes deep for me is anything (traditional or otherwise) that John Rutter adds his magic to. I was so blessed to sing so very many of his while I was in the choir and I still love to listen to them.

I also love the more popular Drummer Boy by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, it always warms me up.

Nov. 30 2010 04:47 PM
Ed from Florham Park, NJ

The choral group, "Straight No Chaser", has a wonderful "Christmas Can-Can" that expresses my sentiments pretty well:

Nov. 30 2010 04:32 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, N.J.


Yes, it is "Ingemisco", and while WQXR is never likely to play it, a certain other station (WBAI, 99.5) in New York has an opera program on Sunday mornings (6 to 9 AM) and is in the middle of a Jussi Bjoerling celebration, so perhaps there's a chance it will show up there.

Nov. 30 2010 03:53 PM
Lee from Toms River, NJ

Hearing the music from The Nutcracker and Messiah help to bring the holiday home for me. The pop nonsense...that's a different story. The good: Bing Crosby's White Christmas. I enjoy it on the radio, on CD, even on a 78 RPM record that I own. The bad and ugly: The Christmas Shoe Song. Who needs to be depressed this time of year?? It's true, the commercial stations over play Christmas music. It used to slowly build up in anticipation of the holiday.'s a flood.

Nov. 30 2010 03:22 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Thank you Kenneth. I do have a 3 lp set of Caruso recordings which I purchased in the 1950s but it does not have Oh Holy Night. Do not play these lps because they scratch so easily. Will do further research.
Again, thanks.

Nov. 30 2010 01:56 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane

As the composer of the Prelude in C sharp Minor, Rachmaninoff complained, "Why don't they play my Prelude in G Minor, I'm tired of hearing them playing the C sharp over and over, as if the G minor and my second piano concerto never existed !" Composers, authors and fine arts painters and sculptors, and elite photographers and movie directors ["my best work was exorcised and left on the cutting room floor"]. Consider all the masterworks that could be given their proper due, their hearing, but, instead, suffer to the powerful sway of the commercial interests. MUSIC-wise, one of the contributors to these commentaries questioned if there exists a Caruso recording of O holy night in french. YES, that recording exists and is to be found on complete recordings sets of Caruso by RCA Victor, Bayer and Naxos, the latter being digitalized by Ward Marston is the best version. Caruso, Bjorling, Franco Corelli and Mario del Monaco ALL had squillo and focus and ing in their voices, and they carried, projected WELL, and, moreover, they sang phyaryngeally.

Nov. 30 2010 11:26 AM
mikeswift from Scarsdale, NY

Why, in this season or any other, do you play dreary choral liturgical "music?" So depressing -- I can't imagine even the most devout listeners enjoy these sounds. Perhaps your "opera claque" likes them? Please stop being dutiful.

Nov. 30 2010 11:24 AM

Oh, one more thing. Its not about 'Christmas' or 'Holiday' music, its about 'good' vs. 'bad' music. And I'm not really boycotting, I'm just going to chage the station more frequently .

Nov. 30 2010 10:54 AM
Dolores from New York

Ah, Peter, Peter, we have become the 'anawim' in the madness of today's out-of-control commercial world. Beautiful music and beautiful language will be saved only by the few wanderers-in-the-desert of contemporary life. Music and calendars of previous centuries may be one of our rare saving graces. QXR helps. Let those who choose to tune out, tune out.

Nov. 30 2010 10:53 AM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Thank you Peter for your comments about beautiful religious music. Can you imagine no longer hearing Mozart's or Verdi's Requiem on WQXR. Appropro(?)
played Jussi Bjoerling Ingemisco(?) from Verdi's Requiem yesterday. Wow, did he rock when he sang this. Wish QXR would play this.

Nov. 30 2010 09:02 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

We have a local radio station here in Sussex County that plays Christmas music continuously from Black Friday until 12/25. It's absolutely infuriating! It seems that the above postings echo the same sentiment.

The repeated variations of the same song, done by "artists" who have no earthly business singing holiday songs! If I hear Jose Felciano's "Feliz Navidad" one more time from a blaring loudspeaker.....!!!

Loathing? It goes way beyond that! It's downright resentment and anger! The fact that it's pure mechandising makes it worse.

I thank the season for a pair of ear buds and a WQXR-type of holiday. Don't speak to me until Jan 2nd!

Nov. 30 2010 08:45 AM
Rita Scholl

I like the less familiar English carols which WQXR plays occasionally. After 78 years of Christmas, the old stand-bys are pretty annoying.

Nov. 30 2010 08:38 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, N.J.

Since people are writing here about religious music on WQXR at Christmastime, I feel compelled to point out two things: (1) this is not Christmas time from a religious point of view, though it is for the stores and the annoying and cloying TV specials. In the Christian church year, it's Advent. this music being played now is being done so to feed mercantilism and will be dropped for the actual Christmas season (dec. 25- Jan. 6).

(2). to eliminate religious themed music from the playlists would mean eliminating mayb 50 per cent (or more) of "serious" music, at least of that written before the 19th century, and certainly a lot of exquisite vocal music. So, let's not!

Nov. 29 2010 03:51 PM
Steve from White Plains

I suppose we have to put up with the overdosing of Christmas music in the malls, etc, WQXR has it about as right as anything this subjective can be. There's a lot of 'oh, I'd love to hear it all year' types and there's the 'bah, humbug' crowd to contend with. WQXR has it about right, but please, never, ever, even in jest play 'The Singing Dogs Sing Jingle Bells'. Play that and I'll burn my radio....

Nov. 29 2010 03:30 PM
Dolores from New York City

I love wqxr and think they mostly get it right at Christmas and with other significant days throughout the year. Thank you. It is a pleasure to see such respectful comments after experiencing NYTimes Comments. Perhaps love of music is indeed a civilizing ingredient in human relations. I hate the expression "Happy Holidays": it is appropriate for Donald Duck.

Nov. 29 2010 12:54 PM
Concetta Nardone from Elmont, NY

I forgot to mention that some of the funds Public radio receives comes from religious people. To those who object to religious music being played on a public station, get over it. Do they also object to the great art in museums that have a religious theme? Another thing that annoys me is Happy Holidays. No, I want to hear Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah.

Nov. 29 2010 11:09 AM

Well, I just looked through my folder for the December concerts coming up and yep, all of this stuff is there. However, it's not half as tiresome when one is actually playing it.

Nov. 29 2010 10:21 AM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Where is this too much religiious music being played on QXR and on a Public Station? I am hoping none of my monthly amount goes to Nina Totenburg of NPR and that all of it goes to QXR alone. Yes, the carols and Christmas music starts much too early as well as all of the shop, shop, shop propaganda going on. I know of some people who actually leave the country just before Thanksgiving because they cannot stand all the advertising, etc. And the song I really hate is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. But I do love Oh Holy Night in French. Would love to hear Caruso sing it but do not know if there is a recording out there.

Nov. 29 2010 10:18 AM

After hearing the album of the week , "Christmas With London Brass," this morning, I will not be tuning into WQXR until at least mid January . Who voted on that album. Yech...

Nov. 29 2010 10:13 AM
Faye Levey from New York City

Please, please, give us a break. I love most of WQXR's programming, but starting the Christmas music in November is unbearable. I can stand a week or so of it right before the holidays, but having to hear the same stuff over and over again --even the good stuff--is nauseating. I find myself rushing to the radio to turn it off.It's bad enough out there in the stores, but I expect something better from QXR.

Nov. 29 2010 09:51 AM
John Turner from Indianapolis

Traditional carols should be limited to the evening of the 24th and morning of the 25th of December, then shelved for another year. As for the out-and-out Buy-Buy-Buy music, it should be entirely unheard on WQXR. Among the reasons I shop almost entirely on line is to avoid the pseudo-ness of the Thanksmasday season. You already play entirely too much religious music, and on a now-public station. There is so much classical music which languishes unheard on WQXR, you should focus on it and let people go to church to hear religious music and Christmas carols, should they choose.

Nov. 29 2010 09:41 AM
Irene Stetson from Kew Gardens

Re the playing of "Christmas music," I would much prefer that it start at least a week or so after Thanksgiving & continue until Jan. 6th. Hope all of the listeners have a wonderful Holiday season of whatever religious or "non" they may be.

Nov. 29 2010 08:08 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from

Even the most thrilling or refreshingly relaxing music can be boring when heard too frequently. The quality of the performing artist/artists might, however, successfully be accepted as intriguing "party crashers" endured for their uniqueness. Except in rare cases we do not hear huge, rich-voiced singers with all the attributes of consummate ease of vocal production and the Italian "open throat" vocalism.

Nov. 27 2010 07:07 PM
Tom from Canada

Handel actually never performed The Messiah at Christmas time

Nov. 26 2010 04:28 PM

During the last few years I have become increasingly annoyed at the stores and radio stations that play nothing but Christmas/holiday music for weeks before Christmas, starting before Thanksgiving, and then stop abruptly on Dec. 26th. It would be nice to hear a little bit of it broadcast after Christmas (if we weren't so tired of it) while we are still visitng family and friends and attending other holiday celebrations.

Beginning after Thanksgiving, I would much rather hear a few holiday songs mixed in with other music, increasing the frequency a week or two before Christmas and continuing for several days afterward.

And let's not forget there are other religions celebrating holidays too.

Nov. 26 2010 02:34 PM
Anne Clear from New York City

Let's not confuse Christmas music with music about winter. "Baby it's cold outside" and "Winter Wonderland" (for example) have nothing to do with Christmas. I have nothing against winter music being played in stores, but I do object to what are essentially religious songs and hymns being used to sell merchandise. Some of this music belongs in church -- but not before Midnight Mass on Christmas Day. And let's please remember that the Wise Men did not arrive until January 6th.

Nov. 26 2010 11:39 AM
Michael Meltzer

"Little Drummer Boy" is not a Polish Carol. It was composed by Katherine K. Davis for an animated TV Christmas special by the same name, and published by Shawnee Press, the publishing arm of choral conductor Fred Waring. Fred Waring was the most media-savvy conductor of the 20th century until Leonard Bernstein and the rest is history.

Nov. 24 2010 11:47 PM
Mary Heller from poughkeepsie

Christmas music starts way too early. Christmas starts on 12/25 and ends 1/6. However, what passes as Christmas music beats the noise that is played any other time of the year.

Nov. 24 2010 10:59 PM
DuckDeadeye from NYC

Both of my local grocery stores are playing Christmas music non-stop. And have been since Monday, Nov. 22.

It's nauseating. Variety is the spice of life. The grocery stores don't sell ONLY holiday food during the holiday seasons, so why play ONLY holiday music?

Nov. 24 2010 05:40 PM
gary friedland from teaneck nj

I believe RIMSKY-KORSAKOV christmas eve
suite should be played more. This is a beautiful
piece of holiday music that alot of people are not
familiar with and would find this work most enjoyable.

Nov. 24 2010 02:52 PM
Hank from Brooklyn

there are many other beautiful Polish Carols. Little Drummer Boy is not one of them. I loathed it the first time that I heard it.

Nov. 24 2010 01:56 PM
Michael Meltzer

The Leroy Anderson "Sleigh Ride," because it is not only played far too often but usually performed without one ounce of any feeling or musical sensibility, either sounding like a piano roll or an orchestra of Martians.

Nov. 24 2010 01:21 PM
Michael Southwell

No, "The Little Drummer Boy" is hideous even the first time.

Nov. 24 2010 01:05 PM
Kathryn from Boston

"The Little Drummer Boy" is a lovely tune the first time you hear it each season. The 10 millionth time is overkill.

Nov. 24 2010 12:36 PM
Mary from Michigan

Music played on electronic synthesizers with the relentless drum beat should be outlawed. Christmas music would be vastly improved if that category was eliminated.

Nov. 24 2010 12:35 PM
Richard Matheron from Escondido, California

Although a don't have a precise defnition of "nice mixture," I still like a nice mixture of traditional religious carols and some of the traditional secular Christmas music such as "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland." I mainly don't like just one type or another. "Christmas in Alabam" is one of my favorite albums although I have no ties to the Deep South.

Nov. 24 2010 12:24 PM
Robert from Springfield

I mostly love Christmas (NOT holiday, but Christmas! C'mon, people ...) music in all its permutations, though I do wish it were reserved until the second week in December. I find Thanksgiving and the week or so after to be a wonderful, mystical time in its own right and should not be trampled for the sake of Black Friday. Only exceptions to my love of Christmas music? The detestable "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "Santa Baby", which have both been covered ad nauseum and stripped of any risques charm they may once have had!

Nov. 24 2010 12:19 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Every year I complain to anyone who will listen about the ever earlier start of what we dare not call "Christmas" music in the stores, cynically set up to inspire people to buy stuff at a time when (let's admit it: especially since we have not even reached Thanksgiving) people aren't really ready for Christmas, or Hannukah, for that matter. And, of course, much of what they play is dreck, or stuff that is played so often that you never want to hear it again. Give it a rest at least till after Thanksgiving!

Nov. 24 2010 12:17 PM
Bruce from Brooklyn, NY

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" is not classical, but it is the most overexposed. The biggest probelm with Christmas music on radio is that the playlists are not extensive enough.

Nov. 24 2010 12:14 PM
whitney Keen from New Jersey

I am tired of pop Christmas songs. You don't hear pop Hannukah songs. Seasonal music is lovely, of whatever religion, but I would like to see more of the music related direcly to the Holidays. Less Rudolph.

Nov. 24 2010 12:10 PM

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