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Marian McPartland's 'A Child's Christmas in Wales'


Over 50 years ago, Harper's Bazaar magazine published a collection of Christmas memories by the poet Dylan Thomas. Titled A Child's Christmas in Wales, the essay featured short poetic passages describing snowy lanes, mince puddings and family gatherings in the parlor.

For the holiday season, NPR's Piano Jazz host Marian McPartland reads A Child's Christmas in Wales and provides her own musical improvisations to evoke the mood of holidays past.

Piano Jazz Producer Shari Hutchinson Remarks on 'A Child's Christmas in Wales':

During the production of the two Piano Jazz Christmas CDs, An NPR Jazz Christmas with McPartland and Friends I and II, Marian and I would inevitably talk about our own favorite Christmas songs. She often reminisced about the carolers who would gather outside her childhood home singing the traditional songs of the season, and how her mother would open the door and reward the carolers with sixpence. Marian's Christmas remembrances brought to mind one of my favorites Christmas stories -- Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Though the essay is set in Thomas' native Wales and not in Marian's homeland of England, we thought that the era and feeling evoked in Thomas' story were similar to Marian's own upbringing. Her richly toned voice gives life to those snow-covered belfries, the uncles in the parlor before the fire and the aunts who had had a little too much wine. The addition of Marian's timeless and impressionistic musical improvisations create a sound portrait -- a perfect addition to Thomas' own vivid descriptions.

As you share Christmas memories with the ones you love, we hope you will enjoy this musical Christmas card from your friends at Piano Jazz and NPR.

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Marian McPartland
Jazz legend Marian McPartland showcased the world's top musicians on NPR's longest-running and most widely carried jazz program, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. She passed away in 2013.