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Sinister And Supernatural Selections For Halloween

Pixabay (Jonny Lindner)

Pixabay (Jonny Lindner)

Halloween is a great time to pull out some of the eeriest compositions from the classical music vault. This October 31st CapRadio is planning on playing one to two spooky tunes an hour.

You could probably bet the farm on hearing some of the more traditional fare, i.e. Mussorgky's Night on Bald Mountain; or Saint-Saens's Danse Macabre (I won't even dare to mention selections from a certain Disney film). But there are a lot more creepy compositions hiding in the shadows.

For a mere taste of what may be lurking around the corner, I've prepared a playlist of five of my favorite tunes with some supernatural flare.

Bela Bartok
Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta: III Adagio
The third movement of what is arguably Bela Bartok's most famous work is eerie from the opening note played on the xylophone. Bartok's "night music" creates a chilling atmosphere filled with magic and suspense. You can see why Stanley Kubric thought the music fitting for his 1980 horror film, The Shining. "Heeeeeeerrrrreeeeee's Johnny!"

William Bolcom
Ghost Rag: 1. Graceful Ghost
Not all things that go bump in the night have to be mailicious and frightening. William Bolcom's Graceful Ghost Rag is more like being visited by a loved one who's long past. Jazzy chords and rhythmic swing set this nostalgic scene as a fond memory. In fact, Bolcom did dedicate this rag to his late father.

Danny Elfman
Serenada Schizophrana: 1. Pianos
Danny Elfman is no stranger to scary music; he's spent too much time with Tim Burton. Elfman and Burton have collaborated on odd and disorienting films like Beetlejuice, Batman (1989), A Nightmare Before Christmas, and more. When the former Oingo Boingo frontman decided to write for the concert stage, he hung on to his thrilling sense of atmospheric tension. One could say Elfman was predestinted to a life as a scribe of horror flick music, growing up a fan of Alfred Hitchcock collaborator's Franz Waxman and Bernard Herman

Bernard Hermann
Vertigo: Prelude, Nightmare, and Love Scene
Speaking of Bernard Hermann; it's his work with Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock that set the precedent for composers of thrillers and horror movies alike. Hermann is an Academy Award winner with five nominations and two scores sitting in the top half the American Film Institute's Top 25 Greatest Film Scores of All-Time. One of those scores is Vertigo. You'll be grateful for the Love Theme at the end! Muahahahahaha!

Giuseppe Verdi
Macbeth: Witches Chorus. "Tra volte miagola la gatta in
There are few better examples of supernatural activity than in Shakespeare's Scottish play. The three witches of Macbeth act as a Greek Chorus of sorts and Verdi decided to take that literally. For the operatic version, the Italian composer adds to the trifecta by employing an actual chorus. Regardless of their numbers, these sinister spirits lead King Macbeth to his death. 

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