My Liszt researches haven’t yet revealed details of his Christmas traditions, but his daughter Cosima was born on Christmas Eve, 1837, although her birthday was celebrated on Christmas Day. Later, with children of her own, she often writes in her diary of her own young family’s Christmas activities. Shopping for a tree, gilding and hanging decorations, and lighting candles on the tree are mentioned over the years.
Liszt started sketches for the pieces of ‘Weinachtsbaum’ – the Christmas Tree Suite – in 1866, when Cosima’s first child by Hans Von Bulow – Daniela – was five, and dedicated it to her, his first grand-child. It was composed between 1874-76, and is a charming suite of twelve pieces, not too difficult. There are arrangements of carols, including the lovely ‘In dulci Jubilo’, and a Scherzoso -‘Lighting the Candles on the Christmas Tree’.