Well, last week it started again. I got several questions of what to play for Halloween music. There are the obvious choices like the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor of Bach and the Danse Macabre of Saint-Saëns and Gothic Suite of Boëllmann. Here’s what I have to offer.
All Hollow’s Eve by Robert Leech Bedell. This is a terrific piece for Halloween! Bedell used the following tableaux as the program for this piece: “A Witch’s Rondevous in an Enchanted Glen – The Ride of the Night-Hags – Pastoral Dance of the Happy Spirits – With the dawn of All-Saints Day, the Creatures of Folklore and Legend, suddenly – vanish!”
Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Mendelssohn, transcribed by Casper Koch. You don’t have to play the whole overture, but the fast, jumping spritely part can sound pretty scary in a family friendly way. If this is too gentle, try Black Host!
In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg, transcribed by Harvey Gaul. It’s the last movement of the First Peer Gynt Suite and it’s perfect for running away from ghosts. Faster, run faster!
On the Coast by Dudley Buck. Now, don’t laugh at this suggestion. Go listen to the opening and tell me you don’t think scary thoughts! Again, there’s no demand that you use the entire piece; cuts are OK for Halloween.
Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner, transcribed by Edwin H Lemare. Nothing really needs to be said for this one. If you’ve got this under your fingers, your Halloween audience will never get over it!
The Thunder Storm by T P Ryder. You can play the whole piece in the Spring for the storm idea but the thunder section works for Halloween.
Will o’ the Wisp by Gordon Balch Nevin. Another name for Will o’ the Wisp is Jack o’ Lantern. Enough said.
Will o’ the Wisp by MacDowell, arranged by Richard Ellsasser. This movement from Woodland Sketches is another quirky piece that is appropriately spritely and a bit more evil than Nevin’s. Also to be considered in the same suite is A Deserted Farm. (Listen to Ellsasser’s recording to see if you think it’s right for you.)
Trauermarsch (Siegfried’s Funeral Music) by Wagner, transcribed by Edwin H Lemare. This is about as somber as it gets and the loud chords can be downright frightening.
Well, that’s a selection to think about. If you know of any Halloween (or All Saints) organ music worthy of restoration, please leave a comment here or email me. Thanks for your interest in this great organ music.