Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fairy Tale Music for Halloween

Hall of the Mountain King Sign found on Flickr

I found this great little article today title "Spooktakular Sonic Surprises" by the Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and, not only did it have a number of pieces I thought extremely appropriate for fairy tale enthusiasts, readers, listeners and writers, but it made me think of a few of my own.

Rather than repeat telling you about the pieces he lists I'll just list them, add a clip courtesy of YouTube and link you to his fun and very readable article. You'll be able to see the others on the list too - all of which will give you an excellent audio selection, Halloween-style, for your ears. :)

The pieces on his list I thought most appropriate for fairy tale people and stories are:

The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack by Danny Elfman (I couldn't find the music without the vocals but it's fabulous, even without the voices)

Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens

Baba Yaga - The Hut on Fowls' Legs (from "Pictures at an Exhibition") by Modest Mussorkgsky

Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Gounod (you probably know this piece, even if you don't know the title. I love this one!) I found a darling little stop-motion animation for Funeral March of a Marionette which I thought I'd share:

You can read the short explanations about each, and the rest of the article, HERE.

And here are my additions (off the top of my head - I planned on researching more for you but Halloween duties called sorry!):

In the Hall of the Mountain King (from Peer Gynt) by Edvard Grieg
I love Ibsen's Peer Gynt tale (which was actually a play)! It's another suite of music I was exposed to as a young child and I didn't need to be told the story to imagine it. You can hear what's happening just by listening. I wasn't surprised to see Wikipedia mention it being used for Halloween concerts - it was the first piece that came to mind. (I apologize the first notes are cut off - it's the best [straight] played I could find where you could actually hear everything happening. It also goes into the next processional piece which I can't remember the name of sorry.)

L'apprenti sorcier (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) by Paul Dukas
I loved this piece and the Goethe story it was based on well before I saw it used in Fantasia. Magical brooms ahead!

The Corpse Bride Theme (combining some pieces from the soundtrack) by Danny Elfman and John August
It feels like an air of death or mourning haunts a few of these pieces yet still has a fantastical and hopeful air- especially that lovely piano solo

Midnight from Cinderella (Music for Ballet) by Sergei Prokofiev
Ok - I admit I'm a huge Prokofiev fan (His Romeo & Juliet is my favorite) but all those (what I think of as) malevolent notes through the suites and the (what I like too call) "musical resistance" to Cinderella making it away from the ball on time? Delicious for suspense!

Aaaand I have to add another Russian piece: from Stravinsky's Firebird, The Infernal Dance of Kashchei. There are quite a few darker pieces from The Firebird suite but this one definitely fits the fairy-tale-Halloween bill on a number of levels. I found this piece conducted by Stravinsky himself and couldn't resist adding it for you.

That's about all I can think of without pulling out my CDs or doing some research but know I've probably forgotten some obvious ones. If you have fairy tale music favorites that you think would be a great addition to the Halloween playlist here, feel free to chime in!
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