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Monthly Archives: December 2020

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Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht – (ORIGINAL 1818 Melody!) – SHEET MUSIC $3.95
Posted by admin on Dec, 09, 2020


for Violin & Piano – SHEET MUSIC $3.95

comp. by Franz Xaver Gruber; arr. by Richard Altenbach, ASCAP

The story of the creation of the beloved Christmas song, “Stille Nacht” or “Silent Night” is well-known. In the postcard Alpine village of Oberndorf, Austria, Christmas Eve 1818, a Catholic priest named Father Josef Mohr had a dilemma: Mass was to be celebrated that evening, but the church organ was kaput, perhaps due to rats in the pipes! While gazing down at the village that day, the inspired Father Mohr jotted down the soon-to-be-famous lyrics to a new song. He then tasked his organist Franz Gruber to come up with a melody to be accompanied on guitar. After just a few hours, Gruber premiered the carol.

Weeks later, renowned organ builder Karl Mauracher arrived to repair the Oberndorf organ. When he finished, he asked Gruber to test the instrument. The church organist proceeded to play the tune that had so recently occupied his soul, “Stille Nacht”. Greatly impressed, Mauracher took the words and music to his home village where eventually, two well known families of singers, the Strassers and the Rainers, heard it. These “King Family” type ensembles loved the carol and spread it throughout Europe. The Strasser sisters ultimately performed it for King Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia in 1834. The king did much to boost the fame of the lovely tune. In 1838, The Rainers brought the song to the US, singing it in German at New York’s Trinity Church.

What is perhaps less well-known is that the original character and even the melody itself has changed significantly from the original! The 1818 version fits the mold of a gentle, waltz-like Laendler in 3/4 time, more akin to a moderately lilting folk dance rather than a sentimental, slow hymn. Speculation is that the more angelic, languid approach proved more effective and fitting for a large singing ensemble such as those described above. In our modern rendition of the carol, the contour of the penultimate phrase soars, chorus-like, lingering upon the satisfyingly highest pitches and harmonies. These notes actually differ from the original tune, which also carries on more quickly and modestly, and is marked by a persistent dotted rhythm throughout. In addition, immediately at the end of the verse, Gruber repeats the final two phrases. This does not comport with the modern form of the song.

In Richard’s arrangement, the piano part reflects the song as printed in 1818 by Gruber, while the violin is added to adorn the revered melody with slight ornamentation at a higher register.

NEW Christmas Music for Violin & Piano – SHEET MUSIC $6.95
Posted by admin on Dec, 05, 2020

for Violin & Piano – SHEET MUSIC $6.95


It’s that time of year! Bring on the figgy pudding, and crack open the violin case… Enjoy Richard‘s lively renditions of two Christmas carols for violin & piano, Joy to the World & Carol of the Bells.

CLICK HERE to hear a performance by Richard Altenbach, Violin & Nancy McCrae, Piano

CONTACT to purchase and download the sheet music for this piece – $6.95

You will receive instructions on payment method and subsequently be sent the PDF in an e-mail. THANK YOU!


Joy to the World – Often attributed to G. F. Handel, this venerable song is actually the result of the “Frankenstein-ing” of several musical phrases together over the years by a series of English Methodist ministers, the final form arising from America. The tune we know today is the 1848 version composed by Lowell Mason, who admittedly utilized musical fragments from Handel’s Messiah and other oratorios! Perhaps this patchwork compositional approach accounts for the unusual and cumbersome pause which occurs after the second phrase, “Let earth receive her King!” – usually resulting in a sudden metrical change from 4/4 to 2/4, and then back to 4/4 time.

The Carol of the Bells – This dynamic, compelling tune from Ukraine, originally a pagan folk chant, tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim a plentiful New Year for the family. The title, Shchedryk refers to “bounty”. The carol was sung on the eve of January 3rd, heralding the New Year according to the Julian Calendar. Of course now it is a favorite worldwide, can to be heard all through the Christmas season.