- The piece is an instrumental medley of "Carol of the
Bells" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
- It was written and first released in 1995 by the
heavy metal band Savatage on their album Dead Winter Dead
- It was later remade by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra,
a larger project that was comprised of several Savatage members
- Sarajevo was included on TSO's 1996 debut album
"Christmas Eve and Other Stories".
- The driving force behind Trans-Siberian Orchestra is
Paul O'Neill, the group's founder, producer, lyricist, and principal
- In a 2003
with Russ Breimeier, O'Neill tells the story behind Sarajevo...
- We heard about this cello player born in
Sarajevo many years ago who left when he was fairly young to go on
to become a well-respected musician, playing with various symphonies
throughout Europe. Many decades later, he returned to Sarajevo as an
elderly man—at the height of the Bosnian War, only to find his city
in complete ruins.
I think what most broke this man's heart was
that the destruction was not done by some outside invader or
natural disaster—it was done by his own people. At that time,
Serbs were shelling Sarajevo every night. Rather than head for
the bomb shelters like his family and neighbors, this man went
to the town square, climbed onto a pile of rubble that had once
been the fountain, took out his cello, and played Mozart and
Beethoven as the city was bombed.
He came every night and began playing
Christmas carols from that same spot. It was just such a
powerful image—a white-haired man silhouetted against the cannon
fire, playing timeless melodies to both sides of the conflict
amid the rubble and devastation of the city he loves. Some time
later, a reporter traced him down to ask why he did this
insanely stupid thing. The old man said that it was his way of
proving that despite all evidence to the contrary, the spirit of
humanity was still alive in that place.
The song basically wrapped itself around him.
We used some of the oldest Christmas melodies we could find,
like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells"
(which is from the Ukraine, near that region). The orchestra
represents one side, the rock band the other, and the single
cello represents that single individual, that spark of hope.
- The melody to "Carol Of The Bells" was originally a
Ukrainian folk song, which actually had nothing at all to do with
- When performed by Oracle, the band's resident
violinist Nikki Herrera plays
the cello parts on violin
- The piece is performed solely as an instrumental work,
and is one of the most popular and most frequently requested songs in
the Oracle Band's repertoire
Oracle Band MP3 / RealAudio Samples
An excerpt from a live Oracle Band performance of this song is
available as both a streaming RealAudio format, or as a higher quality
downloadable MP3. Select the version you'd prefer.
Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24
Download the original version by the Trans
Siberian Orchestra for less than $1
Christmas Eve and Other Stories
Trans Siberian Orchestra
This is one powerful concept album, definitely
one to keep around. If you enjoy Oracle's performances of
"Sarajevo" you will love the original as well as the rest of the
You can't beat the price from Amazon.com,