David Alan Miller's Top Classical Picks for Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the Albany Symphony!

As the sky grows dark and the moon glows bright, here is a list of the creepiest classical masterpieces to accompany your night.  

From witchcraft to demons and dancing skeletons, ghost stories and ancient legends have inspired composers to write haunting melodies and rich orchestrations that have stood the test of time.

Check out David Alan Miller's Top Classical Picks for Halloween. 

1. Night On Bald Mountain- Modest Mussorgsky

Night on Bald Mountain is a a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky.  The work,  most commonly associated with Walt Disney's Fantasia, was first conceived as an Opera based on Nikolai Gogol's story St. John’s Eve.   Plans were later discussed to transform the work into a one-act opera based on Baron Mengden’s play The Witches.  The work was later completed by Mussorgsky in 1867 as a "tone picture" for orchestra and brilliantly depicts a witches sabbath on St. John's Night  on Mount Triglav near Kiev.

It is important to note that the version included on Walt Disney's Fantasia was a re-orchestration of the work composed by Mussorgsky's friend, Rimsky-Korsakov in 1886.

Wolf's Glen scene from Der Freischutz by von Weber

The Wolf's  Glen Scene is a famous scene from Carl Maria von Weber's opera Der Freischutz. Premiered in Germany on June 18, 1821, Der Freischutz is considered to be the first important German opera of the Romantic period.  The first American performance of this opera took place in the Park Theatre, New York, March 2, 1825. 

The Wolf's Glen Scene is notable for the haunting and spooky musical motif's that signal Casper's encounter with Samiel, the devil and a host of demons.

la Danse macabre by Camille Saint-Saens

Danse macabre (Dance of Death) by French composer Camille Saint-Saens, is a tone poem for orchestra based on an old French legend.  Originally composed in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by Henri Cazalis, the composer reworked the piece  into its current form by replacing the vocal line with a solo violin and substituting the the piano accompaniment for orchestra.

According to the old French legend, "Death" appears at midnight on Halloween and calls forth the dead to dance for him while he plays his fiddle.   As depicted in this piece, the skeletons dance for him until dawn, when they must return to their graves until next Halloween.

They Are Always With Me from The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano

Premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 19, 1991,  The Ghosts of Versailles is an opera in two acts by Grammy Award-winning composer, John Corigliano and librettist William Hoffman.

Considered by Corigliano as a "grand opera buffa", The Ghosts of Versailles  is set in the afterlife with the ghosts of the court of Louis XVI.    Needless to say, the Opera is infested with ghosts tormented by the French Revolution.   

You can rent the entire Opera on Demand at MetOpera.org or read a full synopsis at JohnCorigliano.com.