I'm a music major at Cal State Long Beach and I want to share my love of classical Halloween music! My absolute favorite orchestral piece of all time is Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. It's an awesome piece with 5 movements that tells an amazing story using absolutely no words.
This is the basic story: Boy meets girl. He falls in love with her in the first movement (Passions). He sees her at a party and is pretty much obsessed in the second movement (A Ball). In the third movement (Scene in the fields), he reflects upon his loneliness in the countryside and eventually begins to doubt that his love would be faithful. The fourth movement (March to the Scaffold) gets really weird: our young hero poisons himself with opium and he dreams that he has killed his love and was beheaded for it. The fifth movement (The Witch's Sabbath) takes place at his funeral, where witches and sorcerers converge and rejoice. His love also makes an appearance, but is changed. She mocks him and dances with the witches.
The most impressive part of this work is the development of the fixed idea, which is the young lady's them, that recurs in each movement, tying the work together. This was an early version of Wagner's leitmotif. Each time the theme returns, it's colored by the way the young man feels.
I love this piece so much. The fourth and fifth movements are of course my favorites. I love that you can hear so much of the plot through the music, like the French people's joy at the beheading, the witches mocking the young man and dancing in circles, and the young man's infatuation. If you haven't heard this piece before, I would highly recommend that you give it a try.
By Velvet's request, I have embedded the entire symphony below.
Scene in the Fields
The March to the Scaffold
The Witch's Sabbath