What do Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique have in common? All are deliciously spooky excursions into the musical supernatural, eternally popular with classical audiences eager to experience a good scare within the relative safety of respectable art music.
The febrile world of enchantment and witchery has always appealed to composers, and the range of works featuring spectral creatures, ghost ships, demonic valets, trolls, devils, and necromancers is vast.
In the perfect run up to Halloween, popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin leads a hair-raising tour of some of the best-loved classical music haunts, showcasing works by Mozart, Mussorgsky, Berlioz, Dukas, Liszt, Britten, Schubert, Wagner, Ravel, Humperdinck, Offenbach, Saint-Saens, Mahler, and many others.
British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.
October 13 The Soloist as Sorcerer
During the 19th century and beyond, artists became increasingly fascinated by any topic connected to the paranormal, and legendary performer-composers were no exception. Liszt’s and Paganini’s instrumental skills were so extraordinary that some believed they were in league with the devil, and both enjoyed writing music that spooked their audiences. Franklin summons up Liszt’s Totentanz and Mephisto Waltz, Paganini’s Caprices, and unsettling masterpieces from Ravel, Schubert, Debussy, and Stravinsky.
October 20 The Haunted Concert Hall
Who needs creepy movies when symphonic music can frighten the life out of us? From the bizarre to the bloodcurdling, composers have relished the opportunity to conjure witchcraft and magic with the symphony orchestra. Other-worldly works by Berlioz, Mussorgsky, Mahler, Dukas, Saint-Saëns, Dvorák, and Rachmaninoff will materialize.
October 27 Operatic Occult
Experience a chillingly intimate encounter with some of our favorite ghouls and ghosts from the operatic underworld. Selections include excerpts from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer, and more.
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