Over the years I've posted a lot of Sunday classical music. Here are some of my favorites from Halloween past.
Modest Mussorgsky - Night On Bald Mountain
By the 1860s it was less serious than olden times, but the great Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky used the device of a Witch's Sabbath to channel the anti-establishment bacchanalian rebellion of his artistic community.
Walt Disney took this, and paired it with Ave Maria in his 1940 Fantasia film. It may be the musical pinnacle of All Hallow's Eve/All Saint's Day.
Mussorgsky's rebellion caused him to burn brightly, but also to burn out early. By the agen of 42, he had drank himself to death. Much of his music was arranged after his death by friends such as Rimsky-Korsakov or, as in this case, Leopold Stokowski.
Camille Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre
|The Dance of Death|
This piece is based on a poem by Henri Cazalis, from a very old French superstition. Each year Death appears at midnight on Halloween and summons the dead to rise and dance while he plays his fiddle. The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, repeated twelve times: the clock striking midnight. The E Flat and A violin chords that follow are sometimes called the "Devil's chords". The piece is spooky and vigorous all the way through until the end, when the music quietens to a pianissimo as the dead return to their tombs as dawn breaks.
Heinrich Marschner - Overture from the opera Der Vampyr
|Image via Wikipedia|
Because classical music is filed with great choices for Halloween. Like today's offering, a shockingly early piece from 1828. It sounds like it could have been written 60 years later - high romantic classical music from the year after the death of Beethoven himself.
It also has a particularly interesting take on vampires. This opera was written a full seventy years before Bram Stoker's classic, Dracula. Stoker (an Englishman) placed the haunt of the undead in far off Teutonic (or past Teutonic) wilderness. Marschner (a German) placed the haunt of the undead in far off Scottish wilderness.
The story is silly (hey, it's an opera) but the plot is wrapped around vampires and pretty girls, so score one for Marschner. It has a happy ending (hey, it's an opera), so it's perhaps a little lighthearted for the spirit of Halloween, but it's wonderful music.