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Secrets of Holiday Favourites You Didn’t Know

October 28, 2021

So many of our cherished holiday traditions are musical. But do you know as much as you think you do about them? Here are some little-known facts about this year’s holiday favourites: Home Alone In Concert, TSO Holiday Pops, and Handel’s Messiah!

Click on each link below to reveal the secrets!

  1. Legendary Hollywood composer John Williams wasn’t the original choice for the film score because the producers didn't think they could get him. But after the original composer backed out, Williams enjoyed an early cut of the film so much he agreed to write the score and song. 
  2. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that almost every piece of furniture and decor in the McCallister home (including the wallpaper, carpet, and tile) contains the colours red and green. 
  3. Macaulay Culkin admitted on a 2018 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that he never understood why Kevin didn’t just call the cops when the burglars tried to break in. “I think that’s an enormous plot hole!”
  4. John Williams has guest conducted the TSO. On December 4, 1983 (38 years before this year’s Home Alone in Concert), the program opened with his own Fanfare For A Festive Occasion, and included the Return of the Jedi Suite, and a performance by Canadian pianist Andrew Burashko playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto, No. 1 in G Minor.

© 1990 Twentieth Century Fox

  1. This year’s Holiday program will be the 58th in the TSO’s 99-year history.
  2. The first TSO holiday-themed concert took place on December 17, 1935 in Massey Hall, conducted by Music Director Sir Ernest Macmillan. That “Christmas Box Musical” concert included seasonal favourites such as Humperdinck’s Prelude to Hansel and Gretel, Strauss’s Overture to Die Fledermaus, Haydn’s Toy Symphony, the Pastoral Symphony from Handel’s Messiah, and traditional carols.
  3. The TSO is not a dance company, but you’d be forgiven if you thought so because selections from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker have been featured in no less than 31 annual holiday-themed concerts since 1948. And, this year is no exception!
  4. Santa Claus LOVES our Holiday Pops programs. He’s been a regular visitor since the 1940’s, with annual appearances in the last ten years. If we’re all really, really good, he might come back this year!

  1. Handel’s Messiah was written for Easter, not Christmas. Handel composed it specifically for a benefit concert in Dublin during Lent in 1742. It was only in the 19th century that the piece began being performed regularly at Christmas.
  2. Handel was a noted philanthropist. For the Dublin première, Handel gave all proceeds of the concert to inmates of debtors’ prison in Dublin (143 of whom were released due to his donation). By 1750, Messiah was part of an annual holiday concert in benefit of London’s Foundling Hospital. In his will, Handel left all the written music of Messiah to the Foundling Hospital, which allowed the charity to continue to stage the work for generations without the rights and music rental costs. The original score and Handel’s will can be seen at the Foundling Museum.
  3. There is no definitive version of Messiah. Every orchestra and conductor re-arranges the work to suit the circumstances. The TSO has performed many different arrangements and adaptations over the years and is always looking for new and interesting ways to present it. (Even Mozart re-orchestrated Messiah in 1789—a version the TSO performed in 1991.) Given this year’s extraordinary circumstances, Messiah will be abridged to approximately 85 minutes without intermission while retaining the power and magic of its 250 year tradition. 
  4. Jimi Hendrix and Handel were neighbours! In 1968 Jimi Hendrix and his girlfriend moved in a London flat that happened to be right next door to the house where Handel lived from 1723 to his death in 1759. For several months only a wall and 210 years separated the two musical geniuses

Handel's Messiah, December 2019. Photo by: Jag Gundu

Enjoy all our holiday concerts! Home Alone in Concert, TSO Holiday Pops, and Messiah are on sale now.

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