Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24 - Trans Siberian Orchestra
Song Information / Artist Information

  • 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 composer
  • In a 2003 interview 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 Christmas.
  • 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.

Streaming RealAudio

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Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24
MP3 Download

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 album.

You can't beat the price from, either!

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