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The Devil Made Me Do It

Ether Game asks: can you name this tune? It’s by a composer who worshiped music of the past.

The story behind this piece starts with a dream. Legend says that this composer dreamed that the Devil appeared to him and played the violin with such virtuosity that the composer felt his breath taken away. When the composer awoke he immediately jotted down this famous work, desperately trying to recapture what he had heard in the dream. Despite the piece’s popularity with audiences, the composer always felt that it came nowhere close to capturing the demonic music he had heard in his nightmarish vision. Even by today’s standards, this work is one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the violin.

Music Heard On This Episode

Camille Saint-Saëns : Danse Macabre
French National Orchestra/Georges Prêtre — Best Of Saint-Saëns (EMI Classics, 1990)
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Camille Saint-Saëns : Danse Macabre
French National Orchestra/Georges Prêtre — Best Of Saint-Saëns (EMI Classics, 1990)
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Johann Sebastian Bach: Stand steadfast against transgression
Andreas Scholl, countertenor/Collegium Vocale Gent/Phillip Herreweghe, cond. — Cantates pour alto (Harmonia Mundi Fr., 1998)
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Niccolò Paganini, trans. William Primrose: La Campanella
Roberto Diaz, viola/Robert Koenig, piano — William Primrose: Viola Transcriptions (Naxos, 2006)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni Act II Finale, The “Commendatore” Scene
Bo Skovhus (Don Giovanni)/Renato Girolami (Leporello)/Janusz Monarcha (The Commendatore)/Hungarian Radio Chorus/Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia/Michael Halász, conductor — Mozart: Don Giovanni [Highlights] (Naxos, 2006)
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Bernard Hermann: Suite from the Devil and Daniel Webster: Mr. Scratch
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Sedares, conductor — Concerto Macabre: The Bernard Hermann Collection (Koch Int'l Classics, 1996)
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Hildegard von Bingen: Play of Virtues: Excerpts from Scene I
Sequentia — Hildegard von Bingen: Canticles of Ecstasy (RCA, 1994)
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Igor Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress: I was never saner
Samuel Ramey (Nick Shadow)/Munich Radio Orchestra/Julius Rudel, conductor — Simply the Best Night at the Opera (Erato, 1999)
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Franz Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 4
Leif Ove Andsnes — Leif Ove Andsnes - Liszt Piano Recital (EMI Classics, 2001)
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Bela Bartok: Music for Strings Percussion & Celesta: Mvt. 2; Allegro
The Cleveland Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnanyi, conductor — Bartok/Martinu/Janacek: Orchestral Works (Polygram Records, 1995)
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Giuseppe Verdi: Requiem: Dies Irae & Tuba Mirum
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera/Vienna Philharmonic/Sir Georg Solti, conductor — Thunder & Lightning (Decca, 1998)
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Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770): SONATA OP. 1, NO. 4 “THE DEVIL’S TRILL”
Gil Shaham, vln.; Jonathan Feldman, p. — Devil's Dance (Deutsche Grammaphon, 2000)
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Anton Rubinstein: The Demon: I am He Whom You Heard in the Midnight Silence
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (The Demon)/The Kirov Orchestra/Valery Gergiev, conductor — Dmitri Hvorostovsky - Songs and Dances of Death (Philips, 1994)
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Charles Gounod: Faust: Final Trio and Chorus
Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra/ Claudio Scimone, conductor — Simply the Best Night at the Opera (Erato, 1999)
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