There must have been at least four complete versions of the ‘Christmas Tree’ Suite, Weihnachtsbaum
, although only parts of a second version survive. The third version, as published by Gutheil, is being left aside, containing as it does no material which is not present in the final version or in the unpublished first version—now preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The twelve pieces correspond in their broad outlines through all the extant versions, but each revision extends phrases—very often to avoid four-bar predictability (yet this very predictability is what gives some added attraction to the original version as a possible vehicle for children to play). In the case of the second piece, the original version is tiny by comparison with the much longer piano piece and choral work which it was to become. Most of the introductions and codas underwent enormous change and expansion, particularly Nos X and XII. It is a pity that the original version has never been published (nor its arrangement for piano duet, also to be found in Paris, attached to the solo version) because it completely avoids the occasional risk of longueur presented by the final version which may be a factor in its relatively rare appearances in concert.
from notes by Leslie Howard © 1998