Printer-friendly version weekend vote: Which is your favorite, of these 'scary' pieces?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: October 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM [UTC]

This weekend is Halloween, All Saints' Day, and in my neighborhood in Southern California, "Dia de los Muertos."


Of course this has me thinking about the pieces in our classical repertoire, and which ones are the scariest and spookiest. I've compiled a few for your to consider for this week's vote. Also, please share your favorite scary or spooky music and let us know why you like it and any related stories!

Here's a piece especially for us fiddle players, with scordatura violin (the E tuned down to an Eb for that evil tritone effect). It's the violinist's music that coaxes skeletons from their graves at midnight on Halloween. Spoooky!

Danse Macabre (Saint-Saëns) - Angèle Dubeau (2013)

The great violinist Paganini was said to have to have traded his soul to the devil for his terrific violin chops. Here is his "Witches' Dance," played by the late Eugene Fodor. To me it doesn't sound scary, just wicked good.

Le Streghe ('Witches' Dance') (Paganini) - Eugene Fodor

When I was a child, we frequently viewed this clip from Disney's "Fantasia" when we had snow days, etc. It gave me nightmares! I always did enjoy playing the piece, which isn't a bad one for youth orchestras.

Night On Bald Mountain (Mussorgsky) - Fantasia (1941)

The last movement of Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique" incorporates the "Dies Irae," the 13th c. Latin hymn about Judgment Day that is also used in the requiem mass, which adds a dimension of deep-seated spook.

Symphonie Fantastique, IV-V (Berlioz)

A few Halloweens ago, a neighbor's spectacular yard display included this video, projected onto an entire wall of their house! This wouldn't win for music composition alone (it's all pretty derivative), but what puts it into the running for me is its apt use of animation to magnify the feeling of the music:

Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance (Disney 1929)

So which spooky piece do you like best, of these? And if your favorite is not included (and I had to leave out so many, I'm sure this is very possible!) please share what your favorite spooky, Halloween-ish tune is!

From Jim Hastings
Posted on November 1, 2014 at 12:21 PM
I voted for the Mussorgsky, because it brings back a number of childhood memories. It was the first of the group that I remember hearing -- I was about 7 y/o. On cold, gray Saturdays between November and March, I would sit in the living room all alone and listen to albums from my parents' classical music collection. This is one of the music tracks I clearly remember from these sessions.

The piece shows up as background music in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, which I first saw around that same time. It's in the rescue scene -- just before the demise of the Wicked Witch and the return to Emerald City. Side note -- sorry -- a little off topic: I don't recommend showing Oz to very young children -- say, preschool age or younger -- although it depends on the individual kid. I was ready for it at 7; some could be ready a few years younger -- who knows? Use your discretion.

From Dessie Arnold
Posted on November 1, 2014 at 9:01 PM
I voted for Danse Macabre, but two of my other scary favorites are the second movement of Shostakovich's 10th Symphony, and Devil's Dance from Witches of Eastwick by John Williams (that one's more fun than scary).

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