Hallows 2014, Day 7: Dance Macabre

Danse Macabre
Camille Saint-Saëns

So the term “danse macabre” goes way, way back. In the medieval tradition, personified Death summoned everybody to the party, from all walks of life, to head over to graves. It’s like when Hamlet asks Horatio at the gravediggers plot if Alexander the Great also looked like these discarded skulls, and they affirm, “Even so.” Here’s a 1493 depiction below.

Danse_macabre_by_Michael_Wolgemut

 

In this musical depiction by Saint-Saëns, Death is represented by the solo violin. The clock chimes twelve times for midnight, and the dance begins. Then, when the cock crows and morning comes, you can hear them all scatter at the end. I have memories of my mom playing this in orchestra and pointing out all of the narrative parts.

Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

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1 thought on “Hallows 2014, Day 7: Dance Macabre”

  1. Love this piece! This was the first authentic orchestra piece (not an educational arrangement) I ever played. It was my first year at music camp when I was 12. My friend and I practiced like crazy to learn the second violin part:)

    Like

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