I’ve seen a lot of curious people wanting to dive into classical music but don’t know where to start, so I have written out a list of pieces to listen to depending on mood. I’ve only put out a few, but please add more if you want to. hope this helps y’all out. :)
Perhaps I’m feeling macabre, but tonight I’m digging out my favorite spooky classical pieces and listening to them. So I thought putting together a top ten list of these would be fun while I drink my scotch. Note: These are not really in any particular order. I love them all.
1. Beethoven: Piano Trio in D major, op. 70 no. 1, “Ghost” - 2nd movement. Rattling of chains, shrieking of spirits; the nickname of this trio fits it well. The first and third movements are good as well, but only the second movement is really spooky. 2. Schubert: Der Leiermann (from Winterreise). A heartbroken young man sings about the hurdy-gurdy, an outcast who sits just outside the village and plays his instrument while dogs snarl at him and people ignore him.
Particularly chilling is that this is the last song of an hour-long cycle, and it drones on without clear resolution, ending with the line: “Strange old man, should I go with you? Will you accompany my songs on your hurdy-gurdy?” 3. Mussorgsky: Night On Bald Mountain. You may know this one from Disney’s Fantasia, which is featured during the Witches’ Sabbath sequence. 4. Schubert: Der Erlkönig. Based on a poem by Goethe, this song tells the chilling story of a father and his ailing child riding through the woods on horseback, while a malicious spirit tries to lure the boy away, unseen and unheard by the father. 5. Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre. Death plays his fiddle in the cemetery, rousing all the skeletons from their graves and dancing with them until they have to slink back at the first light of dawn. 6. Brahms: Ballade in D minor, op. 10 no. 1, “Edward.” Based on a Scottish ballade, the story is of a mother who knows that her son has murdered his father - she just wants to hear him say it himself. 7. Shostakovich: Viola Sonata. Shostakovich composed during the height of Soviet censorship, and his music almost always has a hunted, almost panicked feel to it. He composed this viola sonata just a month before his death. 8. Shostakovich: String Quartet no. 8 in C minor, op. 110. Between the frenzy of the second movement and the insistent “knocking on the door” of the fourth, this quartet can really put you on edge. What makes this music even freakier is Shostakovich’s musical signature (D E-flat C B) throughout the work. 9. Mussorgsky: The Hut of Baba Yaga the Witch (from Pictures at an Exhibition). This one always sounds like Baba Yaga’s “Hut On Chicken’s Legs” is chasing me through the woods, but that might just be my wild imagination. 10. Scriabin: Piano Sonata no. 9, “Black Mass.” Some of the directions that Scriabin writes in the score are “mysteriously murmuring”, and “with a sweetness that becomes increasingly poisonous,” which is a pretty apt description for much of this work. It begins mysteriously, then builds in tension until it all explodes in some kind of orgiastic climax. It ends just as enigmatically as it begins.
Fantasia “Night on Bald Mountain” Concept Painting by Kay Nielsen (Walt Disney, 1940). Joe Grant recommended Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen (1886 - 1957) to Walt Disney. Walt took the advice and hired him, and Kay worked at the studio from 1937 to 1941. He was renowned at the studio for his dramatic concept art and illustration work. His work and insight was used extensively for the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment of Fantasia…
the muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited |
Danse Macabre • Camille Saint-Saëns // Danza Ritual Del Fuego • Manuel de Falla // Funeral March of a Marionette • Charles Gounod // In The Hall of the Mountain King • Edvard Grieg // Isle of the Dead • Sergei Rachmaninoff // The Sorcerer’s Apprentice • Paul Dukas // Nigh on Bald Mountain • Modest Mussorgsky // Ode to Death • Gustav Holst // [Excerpts from] Pictures at an Exhibition • Modest Mussorgsky (Ravel) // [Excerpts from] The Rite of Spring • Igor Stravinsky // Dance of the Knights • Sergei Prokofiev // Symphony No. 5 • Ludwig van Beethoven // String Quartet No. 11 - Scherzo-Allegretto • Dmitri Shostakovich // String Quartet No. 12 - Allegretto • Dmitri Shostakovich // Toccata and Fugue in D Minor • Johann Sebastian Bach // The Water Goblin • Antonin Dvorak
On November 14th, 1974, numerous eyewitnesses claimed to see a “fiery object” plummet to Earth approximately five miles away from Bald Mountain in Lewis County, Washington.
Three days after this event, Seattle grocer Earnest Smith was deer hunting in the area when he spotted a strange creature that was unlike anything he had ever seen before. He described it to Jim Brandon of “Weird America” as horse-sized, covered with scales and standing on four rubbery legs with suckers like octopus’s tentacles. Its head was football-shaped with an antenna sticking up, and it gave off a green, iridescent light.
Days later, Roger Ramsbaugh and his wife were driving along State Route 7- a nearly 60-mile stretch of road between Morton and Tacoma- on a fog shrouded evening, when they suddenly noticed a dull green glow near the side of the road. When they slowed down to investigate, they saw that very same creature standing there, and they presumably sped off out of fear.
These reports soon reached the local paper, who dubbed it the Crazy Critter of Bald Mountain. Eventually, William H. Wiester the Lewis County sheriff began an investigation. Shortly after, he was visited by United States Air Force and NASA officials and instructed not to continue his investigations. The sheriff’s own team of county officials was replaced by heavily armed agents wearing uniforms with no insignia. As soon as they swooped in, no new information regarding the Crazy Critter was revealed, and no more sightings have been reported ever since.