Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Classical Music for Halloween!!!!

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.


A Ball

Scene in the Fields
Part 1


The March to the Scaffold

The Witch's Sabbath


Zombie Girrrl said...

That was cool! I especially liked the cellos in The Witches Sabbath. Thanks for sharing! :)
I noticed you're currently reading Soulless, I can't wait for your review!

titania86 said...

Thanks! I was worried people might not be interested, but if at least one person is that's enough for me. :)

I'm loving Soulless and I'm only 35 pages in! I'm excited to review it.

vvb32 reads said...

Beautiful. That was a nice listen. I hadn't heard this before and for some reason was expecting something darker.

I'm a lightweight when it comes to classical music, but I can appreciate the good stuff.

The pieces you have here are pretty light-hearted and can feel the frolicking going on.

Thanks for the description of the movements. It helps with the imagery.

I want to hear the remaining movements. Can you suggest links for movements 1 to 3?

vvb32 reads said...

thank you for the add-ons. nice treat to listen to. just started listening and wanted to say so far, in The Ball I love the closeup on the harpist. That is such a rare sight.

Misty said...

I love classical music. Great post. This may be completely overdone/predictable/cheesy, but I have to say that I love Orff's O Fortuna for a Halloween/foreboding feel. I know it's not actually scary (though depressing, I suppose), but the way it's sung sounds so ominous and powerful. Love it.

titania86 said...

Orff's whole Carmina Burana is awesome! O Fortuna is one of my favorite pieces, so I don't think it's overdone or cheesy or predictable. I was thinking about featuring it too, but it's not very Halloween-y.