You’re preparing your Halloween playlist for the spooky season and you’re going for the usual suspects. Of course, Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ is number one on the list alongside a whole host of movie and TV series soundtracks. ‘Tubular Bells’ from The Exorcist and the theme tune from Psycho have to feature. This year, the Stranger Things theme will probably make it on there too.
Think you’ve got all the classic Halloween tracks? Think again because classical compositions have been raising the hair on the back of people’s necks for hundreds of years. Halloween is all about the theatrics and embracing fear and there’s nothing quite like classical music to stir up emotions. Terrifying tunes have been creeping around for eons and into the crevices of your subconscious and these six bone-chilling songs emerge from the shadows at Candlelight’s Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics.
1. ‘Funeral March of a Marionette’ – Charles Gounod
Written back in 1872, the timeless ‘Funeral March of a Marionette’ boasts a whimsically spooky kind of humor. As the tempo of the music marches onwards, it tells the story of a puppet’s funeral procession – an absurd and yet somewhat macabre concept. You will definitely have heard this eerie melody before. Most famously, Alfred Hitchcock used it as the theme music for the TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents but it’s everywhere…
2. String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 110 ‘Allegre Molto’ – Dmitri Shostakovich
The sharp notes of the violin in this composition create a foreboding atmosphere – an urgency and the haunting feeling that something out of the ordinary is about to occur. An abrupt ending gives the sense that this enigmatic happening has suddenly arrived and there is no escape.
Dmitri Shostakovich was a 20th-century Russian composer who created music with incredible emotional depth, reflective of the tumultuous political and economic climate in what was the Soviet Union. The Dresden Quartet as a whole was written for ‘the victims of fascism and the war’ and it’s so powerful that one performance reportedly brought the composer to tears.
3. ‘Danse Macabre’ – Camille Saint-Saëns
Sometimes referred to as ‘The Dance of Death’, ‘Danse Macabre’ is another otherworldly composition that uses the violin to conjure complex images in the mind of the listener. The rivetting music takes you to where skeletons dance on Hallow’s Eve as Death flaunts its power. At the midnight bell tolls, the dance begins and as the music fades it maintains its almost cheeky tempo, as the skeletons beckon you underground.
Dare you to venture with them to Candlelight’s Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics?
4. ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ – Modest Mussorgsky
‘Night on Bald Mountain’ boldly spins into being, dramatically asserting its presence with vivid and vibrant notes. As the music progresses it becomes frantic, with distinct tunes fighting for dominance, reflecting the presence of mystic beings whose complex and mysterious realms converge on ‘Bald Mountain’, a place in Russian folklore where witches and other supernatural beings dwell.
5. ‘Der Erlkönig’ – Franz Schubert
‘Der Erlkönig’ tells the story of a boy and his father riding back on their horse to the farm. The boy cries out time and time again to his father as the Elfking tries to tempt him away but his father doesn’t believe it’s anything more than the ‘mist’ or the ‘wind rustling’. Eventually, the Elfking touches the boy and he dies, leaving his father to lament.
It’s based on a poem of the same name written by Gothe and you can feel the story unfold as the horse gallops through the forest and the boy’s cries become more and more urgent, punctuating the music dramatically.
6. In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg wrote ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ for the Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt. This fantastical play tells the story of a Norwegian folk hero by that name who at this point in the play meets a mountain king and his trolls. These trolls want to eat our hero and as they come closer to capturing him the music becomes increasingly frantic with a brisk tempo.
It is such a well-known song, featuring in everything from The Lost Boys: The Tribe to Mad Men. It’s become almost synonymous with characters trying to escape from sticky situations in movies and TV series. Just like them, you too will feel your heart beat faster and faster.
As the night grows longer and leaves crunch underfoot, allow these six spine-chilling songs to take you to other worlds at a Halloween Candlelight concert. While soft candlelight casts shadows along the walls and ceilings, experience the terror as you flee from the Elfking or marvel at the macabre funeral march of a marionette. Allow these centuries-old compositions to immerse you in folklore and find yourself watching the witches on Bald Mountain as they conspire and cast their spells. Don’t overlook these devilishly creepy tracks this year!