Friday, October 31, 2014

Classics from the Crypt

In honor of Halloween, I am going to post for you my favorite "scary" songs . . . all classics, of course. And all enormous favorites of mine!

First of all, I give you . . . Saint-Saen's "Dance Macabre." Which is just so ridiculously wonderful! I have a particular love of this one because, a few years back now, my roommate Charity and I learned this duet for two pianos version that you see below. Not that we ever got it this polished or performed it on two grand pianos . . . but we had a lot of fun. (I'm pretty sure I played the part of the girl on the left.)

Possibly the most fun I've ever had as a pianist. (And no, I don't play to this level anymore. The "Minerva Louise" song is about where my range cuts off these days! LOL.)

But this song is at its most fabulously unbelievable when played by a whole orchestra, so . . .

I adore this piece soooooo much. I could hear the Dragon Dance in Veiled Rose being something like this . . .

My next scary song directly inspired the entire storyline and mythology of Hri Sora, the Dragonwitch from my series. That's right, dear imps, I am talking about Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain."

 The Disney animation aside, this song always conjured up images of darkness suddenly erupting in flame. I can almost see those tongues of fire rising into the night, burning the top of the mountain as some powerful conflagration strikes from above. Thus was born the storyline of the Dragonwitch, the powerful dragoness, her assault upon the Moon, the stripping of her wings, and her fall from the heavens. All inspired by this one song.

Mussorgsky is amazing. (We had a very different Mussorgsky piece played at our wedding.) But this might be my favorite of all his works.

My next pick is a song which has been a favorite since childhood. And seriously, what child with an imagination of any kind can help but listen to this mysterious, dangerous, wonderful song without feeling the heart-thudding thrill of those mountain caverns and the beings who dwell therein? Long before creating the goblins featured in Moonblood, I would sit and listen to this song over and over again . . . and later would listen to it with my ten-years-younger-than-me baby brother, Peter (who loved this song so much from the time he was so small, I would play it for him when he was teething to--I kid you not--calm him down. When he got a little older, we would dance to it).

Anyway, I give you--Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King."

And, because everything by Edvard Grieg is wonderful, here's "March of the Trolls" as well.

Honestly, I don't think I can top Grieg, so I'm going to end here, leaving you with, I think, the perfect soundtrack for a Halloween evening. I hope you enjoy this selection!

What are some of your favorite "scary" songs, classics or otherwise?


Meredith said...

These compositions are fantastic! It's so hilareous that "In the Hall of the Mountain King" calmed your brother down when he was teething! It's one of my favorite pieces, too. I love the crescendoing effect of the music, how at the end it just bursts forth. And, I can definitely see how "Night on Bald Mountain" would inspire the creation of Rhi Sora! Wow!

Some of my favorite "scary" songs are:
1. The Phantom of the Opera, (from the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber).
2. Dangerous Game, (from the musical Jekyll and Hyde, by Frank Wildhorn).
3. The Monster Mash. (Have to listen to that one every year. Not scary but makes me laugh and reminds me of one of my favorite teachers. He could do the dance and sound just like the narrator of the song).

Anonymous said...

Love your selection, hon - those three are always on my "Spooky Classics" playlist, too, along with J.S. Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in d Minor" and Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Unknown said...

OK, so I'm definitely NOT a music connoisseur, but I have one.... And Meredith stole it. :-P Haha, I love the Phantom of the Opera! My parents took me to see it when I was really little -- as in four years old-- and I was following the storyline and LOVING IT!!! There's actually a somewhat embarrassing story there, but I think that I'll leave it and be thankful that Mom doesn't frequent the blog. Lol.

Rina's Reading said...

Ooooh! Love the 'Dance on Bald Mountain'. I don't remember hearing it before but you're right it's very inspiring.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Meredith--Those are all great picks! I didn't even think of Jekyll and Hyde, but it's actually got quite a lot of spooky music. "Alive" would be a good one, and "The Transformation."

After I looked it up and showed it to him on Youtube, Rohan says that "Monster Mash" should be our kitty Monster's new theme song. :)

@Air Force Wife--Ah! The Sorcerer's Apprentice! Can't believe I didn't think of that one. We were listening to it just last night while carving pumpkins. :)

@Natasha--How can you drop a hint for an embarrassing story and not satisfy our curiosity??? ;)

@Rina--I'm glad to have introduced you to such a great piece!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't actually get why people like Halloween. Some of the scary/dramatic songs I know are:
Same as Meredith, The Phantom of the Opera, and also maybe The Music of the Night, we have the Phantom of the Opera CD.

Ps I can play a song called Hall of The Mountain king on guitar, it always used to remind me of the Hobbit.

Unknown said...

Well, I offered Mom the chance to amuse herself by getting to tell the story.... She didn't. So, to satisfy your curiosity, I'll tell you.

Like I said, I was loving the play. Mom had had me all dolled up. Makeup, ringlets, puffy dress... EVERYTHING. I sat on the edge of my seat through the entire play, completely riveted. ... That's where my embarrassment begins. It was in one of the last scenes, where the Phantom, Christine, and Raul were all in the Phantom's lair beneath the opera house. The Phantom was threatening to hang Raul, and his fate was in Christine's hands. She kisses the Phantom, and I scream, "NO, NO, YOU'RE KISSING THE WRONG MAN!!!"

... So now you know. :-/

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Oooooooooooooooooh! LOLOLOL! Natasha,that made my night! I just read your post out loud to my husband, and he laughed too! Wow.

Well, that silly Christine needs to be told what's what and who's who by someone, right??


Unknown said...

Haha! Glad to make your night, Anne Elisabeth! :-D I don't actually remember that night very well, so Mom and Daddy are filling me in on all of the funnier details. ... Like me popping off of my grandfather's lap to say it... and the five or six people around us -- and not people we know, mind you! -- laughing at me. :-D

Meredith said...

Ha, Natasha! You are cracking me up! Have you read the novel upon which the play is (very loosely) based? You'd definitely say that Christine is kissing the wrong man then! The book's a lot creepier than the play.

To Mrs. Anne Elisabeth: So neat that you've heard the musci from Jekyll and Hyde! Yes, "Transformation" and "Alive" are terrifically scary. Also, "Facade" and "Murder, Murder" are as well. "Dangerous Game" is a song I could easily picture the Dragon singing, (especially Hyde's verses). Another spooky song that always gives me chills is "Hungry Like the Wolf," by the British 80's rock band Durand Durand.
So thrilled that Mr. Rohan liked Monster Mash! LOL! Have a terrific weekend.

Unknown said...

Haha, love these! We've been listening to Nightmare Before Christmas to set the mood. I recently bought the whole Peer Gynt Suite on CD... My favorite is "The Death of Ase". : )

Unknown said...

@ Meredith- Ooh! No, I haven't, but it sounds intriguing! Does it go by the same title as the play?

Meredith said...

To Natasha: Yes, the book goes by the same name as the play. The novel is by a man named Gaston Leroux. It's written as if it is an account of true events, so the style might throw you at first. The first time I read it, I was ten I think, so I thought for the longest time that the story was true. I actually read the book before seeing the play. I like the book because it examines the story from different points of view. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I read the book a few years ago. I watched the movie and I really liked it.

Unknown said...

@ Meredith- Thanks! I think that that will be going on my "to-read" list! God Bless!