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Classical Music Treat for Halloween: Spooky Listening for Ghoulish Sound

Published by Piper Trollope

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Music affects moods and environment. Classical music has been greatly used in movie soundtracks for dramatic effects.

Those feeling the spirit of the Halloween, consider adding this list of thrillingly devilish classical music. Some of them may have been used in film scores.

  • Bach, Johann Sebastian: Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565.This is JS Bach’s most famous organ piece, considered to be the most scary organ music. Often associated with dramatic silent films, there are lots of unsettling tension in the music, from the opening motif through the pulsing rhythm of the entire piece.
  • Beethoven, Ludwig van: Ghost Piano Trio. A nickname of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Op.70 No.1, because of the slow movement’s ghostly atmosphere.
  • Chopin, Frideric: Marche funèbré. Funeral marches are slow ceremonial marches. Chopin’s piece is Piano Sonata in B flat op.35. He also wrote another one in C minor.
  • Grieg, Edvard: In the Hall Of The Mountain King. It is the fourth part of a musical set written by Grieg from Peer Gynt, an orchestral suite. In the story, Peer Gynt is being chased by the gnomes after he refuses to marry the daughter of the mountain king. This music reflects the tumultuous chase, built on a single fragment that is repeated over, then grows wilder and wilder until Peer Gynt can’t take it any longer.
  • Liszt, Franz: Mephisto Waltz In the legend of Faust, Mephisto is the Devil to whom Faust sells his soul. This music is his waltz, from that most fiendish of pianistic technical virtuoso, Franz Liszt.
  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: Requiem “Dies Irae.” It is used as a sequence in choral requiems to signify the mass for the dead, in this case, Mozart’s Requiem, left unfinished due to the master’s death. The 13th century Latin hymn describes the “day of judgment”, in which souls will be summoned before God. Some will be saved, while others, cast into eternal damnation.
  • Mussorgsky, Modest: Night On a Bare Mountain. It is St. John’s night on the bare mountain, an orchestral work by Mussorgsky in 1867 after Gogol’s story of St. John’s Eve.
  • Orff, Carl: Carmina Burana, “O Fortuna.” It is the most famous piece from Orff’s Carmina Burana. Its sound is explosive, from the soloists, choir, and orchestra. In particular, the song laments the unpredictability and unfairness of fate, often picking up people with good fortune, only to discard them away later.
  • Purcell, Henry: Queen Mary’s Funeral Music. Composed by Purcell for the funeral of Queen Mary in 1695, a setting of two sentences from the burial service, two canzonas for trumpets and trombones and a march.
  • Rachmaninov, Sergei: Isle of the Dead. Inspired by a painting of Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin, the “Isle of the Dead” may sound melancholy, but it is equally eerie, intense and restless. It flows with musical passages filled with gloom and doom.
  • Saint-Saëns, Camille: Danse Macabre. It is a symphonic or tone poem by Saint-Saëns. A ‘dance of death’, it is grimly ghoulish. The text of the original song includes the lines: “Death at midnight plays a dance-tune….Through the gloom, white skeletons pass….” The bones of the dancers are heard to crack.
  • Tartini, Giuseppe: Sonata in G, The Devil’s Trill. A violin sonata in G minor. It is so nicknamed as “The Devil’s Trill” because of the long trill in the last of its four movements.

Other selections of Halloween classical music include the following:

Bach’s Passacaglia and Thema Fugatum in c minor, Boccherini’s Symphony No. 6, The House of the Devil, Brahms’s Begraebensgesange (Funeral Hymn), Faure’s Chant funeraire, Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette, Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night, Paganini’s Witches Dance, and Stravinsky’s The Devil’s Dance

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