Music for the Winter Holidays

By Michael San Gabino |

Share this Post

The film It's a Wonderful Life features several holiday classics. Hear one in The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays (Photo: IFC)

The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays, hosted by Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, presents music from holiday favorites and other wintry classics. Stream The Film Score: Music for the Winter Holidays to hear music from the films below.


The Magnificent Ambersons

Although you won’t hear "Jingle Bells" in this program, we begin with music scored to accompany images of a one horse open sleigh dashing through the snow in this Orson Welles 1942 classic.

Sun Valley Serenade

“It Happened in Sun Valley” is a catchy tune from this 1941 film that has been covered by everyone and everything from Mel Tormé to South Park. We feature a festive rendition by Jo Stafford, the Starlighters, and the Paul Weston Orchestra.


(Photo: IGN)

Fargo is far from your typical holiday movie, but Carter Burwell’s score perfectly captures the wintry Minnesota landscape. 


(Photo: Airport)

Another diversion from the typical holiday fare, nothing screams winter like a snowy, disaster epic with an exuberant score.


On the Avenue

Ella Fitzgerald (Photo: Grammy)

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” is an Irving Berlin song that has been covered by many artists, and we feature a swinging version performed by the legendary Ella Fitzgerald.

White Christmas

(Photo: AARP)

We feature another holiday hit with music by Irving Berlin. This time, Rosemary Clooney singing a lesser-known song, “Snow.”

Holiday Inn

One of the most popular holiday songs is Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” which comes from the film Holiday Inn. We present the original version with Bing Crosby and Martha Mears (who dubbed for Marjorie Reynolds).

Meet Me in St. Louis

(Photo: LA Weekly)

The Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the musical Meet Me in St. Louis is cemented in the American songbook. We feature the heart-wrenching performance Judy Garland gave of the hit, and how she helped to create the version of the song we all know and love today.

In the Good Old Summer Time

(Photo: IMDB)

Judy Garland appeared in this lesser known 1949 film. The song she sings is called simply, “Merry Christmas.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Photo: Kmit)

The rollicking Russian-inspired song (balalaikas included), “Moonshine,” underscores Wes Anderson’s quirky and delightful 2014 film.

Dr. Zhivago

(Photo: Biography)

Another wintry (and Russian) film classic is Dr. Zhivago, which has one of the most famous romantic scores of all time, and includes the lush “Lara’s Theme.”

Moonlight in Vermont

(Photo: IMDB)

The famous jazz standard “Moonlight in Vermont” never appeared in the film by the same name. But over time, the song has become more popular than the movie, and we feature Jo Stafford’s interpretation.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The holidays would not be the same without the Vince Guaraldi Trio and the Peanuts gang. We break the rules of The Film Score by featuring music from one of the most popular television holiday specials.

It’s a Wonderful Life

(Photo: TheRedList)

As we anticipate the New Year, hear the Bailey family and citizens of Bedford Falls sing the Scottish folk song “Auld Lang Syne.”

The Film Score is made possible, in part, by the generous support of The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois.