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'Bing at Christmas' makes holiday edition of APM's 'Major Themes'

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In this holiday edition of Major Themes - a feature in which classical music experts recommend a must-hear recording based on a theme - we asked staff members at Classical MPR and American Public Media to pick a favorite holiday album. Bing Crosby - Bing at Christmas makes our top picks.

One morning in 1940, Irving Berlin - then America's most popular songwriter - ran into his office with a tune in his head. Unable to read or notate music, Berlin dictated the piece to his musical secretary before proclaiming, "Not only is it the best song I ever wrote, it's the best song anybody ever wrote." The tune - a sentimental, secular holiday piece called "White Christmas" - was first performed live by Bing Crosby on a radio broadcast shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It became a massive hit with troops abroad and families back home, ushered in the modern Christmas music industry, and earned the Guinness record for bestselling single worldwide. Now, with a newly reorchestrated version featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, we can hear "the best song anybody ever wrote" as it's never been heard before, along with a dozen other holiday hits and a special Crosby duet with David Bowie. - James Napoli, digital producer

SEE APM's 'Major Themes' PAGE