What I’ve always loved about my line of work is setting a mood. As a DJ, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating just the right soundtrack to make the moment complete, whether I’m spinning discs on the radio, playing tunes at a wedding, or just putting together the background music for a family celebration on my iPod. It’s more than just lining up all the popular hits for a particular demographic. It’s finding the right music to transport listeners to a particular place and time and emotional situation.
It’s subliminally reaching into someone’s soul and bringing them to the grassy bank of a river on a sunny spring day. Or putting them into uniform and marching them down a dusty road, bayonet in hand, to fight for freedom. Finding the right piece can also be about making the hair on the back of a listener’s neck stand up, terrified at the image of a demon racing after them in the dark.
Halloween is one of my favorite times of year to host a music program, because there’s so much music that’s been written over the centuries (both contemporary and classical music) designed to scare the dickens out of us; evocative music that brings the ghosts and goblins, witches and spirits alive on a blustery fall evening. In fact, so many composers have written classical music about ghouls and spirits that as I was writing this, I realized that I’d written a strikingly similar column dedicated to scary classical music five years ago, which also included a list of music to scream by. But there are no duplications on today’s list from the one published in the 2008 edition of the Jefferson Monthly. It’s a whole new terrifying compilation. There’s no organ work by Bach, no Mussorgsky, not even The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
You might hear some of those creepy tunes (from the old list and the new) this October 31st, when I’ll be sharing as much scary music as I can pack into the four hours under my command throughout Siskiyou Music Hall during a special Halloween edition of the program. It’s something I try to do every year, and I always seem to discover a few new works each year to sprinkle in with the old standbys. I also got pretty lucky recently when the mailman delivered a new recording on the Sono Luminus label from pianist Michael Lewin, titled, “Piano Phantoms.” A number of the solo piano works were new to me, and I can’t wait to scare the bejeebers out of you with some of them at the end of the month!
1. Franz Schubert – Loda’s Ghost
2. Florence Price – The Goblin & The Mosquito
3. Luigi Boccherini – Symphony No. 4, “The Devil’s House”
4. Eugene Goossens – A Ghost Story
5. Sir Granville Bantock – The Witch of Atlas
6. Geoffrey Toye – The Haunted Ballroom
7. John Williams – Theme From Jaws
8. Francois Dompierre – The Devil’s Beauties
9. Carl Tausig – The Ghost Ship
10. Silvestre Revueltas – Don Ferruco’s Nightmare
11. Richard Wagner – Siegfried’s Death & Funeral March
12. Cesar Franck – The Accursed Huntsman
13. Giuseppe Tartini – The Devil’s Trill
14. Arnold Bax – From Dusk Til Dawn
15. Sergei Rachmaninov – Isle of the Dead
16. Antonio Bazzini – Dance of the Goblins
17. Hector Berlioz – Dream of a Witch’s Sabbath
18. Alfred Prinz – The Merry Black Widow
19. Albert Roussel – The Spider’s Web
20. Wojciech Kiler – Brides from Bram Stoker’s Dracula
21. Charles Williams – The Devil’s Galop
22. Leroy Anderson – The Phantom Regiment
23. Malcolm Arnold – Tam O’ Shanter
24. Anatol Liadov – Kikimora
25. Robert Schumann – Ghost Variations
26. Johann Strauss, Jr – Lucifer Polka
Tune to the special Halloween edition of Siskiyou Musical Hall from noon to 4pm on All Hallows’ Eve on the Classics & News Service of JPR for a scary good show full of goblins and ghosts and things that go bump in the night!