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Death Plays A Mean Fiddle

Here’s a hint: There are weird things going down the graveyard tonight!

According to the superstition, Death appears at midnight every year on Halloween and calls forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle.

Perhaps the most recognizable adaptation of this creepy legend is the Danse macabre by the French composer Camille Saint-Saens. Originally written as an art song for voice and piano, Saint-Saens later arranged his work for full orchestra.

The opening violin solo, representing Death and his fiddle, incorporates the tritone, a jarring musical interval that has long been associated with music of the Devil.

Saint-Saens’ ingenious use of the orchestra to evoke the creepy atmosphere has helped solidify the Danse macabre one of his most popular pieces

Music Heard On This Episode

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): Danse macabre
Georges Pretre/French National Orchestra — Classics from the Crypt (RCA, 1992)
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album cover
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): Danse macabre
Georges Pretre/French National Orchestra — Classics from the Crypt (RCA, 1992)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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