Halloween is steeped in superstition. From the eerie, the strange and even the paranormal, the season can leave some people on edge. Horror films exacerbate the problematic day with stories that fill the mind with uneasy thoughts. This Halloween, enjoy six spooky classical works from or inspired by scary Hollywood classics.
Bernard Herrmann — Suite From Psycho
The iconic shower scene wouldn’t have the same gut-wrenching effect if it weren’t for the sharp, piercing screams from the strings. Along with Psycho, Herrmann composed other horror and thriller film scores including The Day the Earth Stood Still, It’s Alive and Cape Fear.
Aaron Copland — ‘Cortège Macabre’ from Grohg
Inspired by the vampire film Nosferatu, Copland’s ballet Grohg incorporates sinister undertones with jazzy syncopations and cheery melodies to create a withdrawn uneasy sensation. ‘Cortège Macabre’ consists of the introduction, cortège and entrance of Grohg that opens the ballet with four creepy-looking coffins on stage and an eerie, three-note knocking rhythm.
George Crumb — Black Angels: I. Threnody I – Night of the Electric Insects
Threnody I: Night of the Electric Insects is featured on the soundtrack of the supernatural horror film The Exorcist. As the title suggests, the heavily articulated notes of the strings give an aural illusion of insects creeping on your skin. If you consider the hidden meaning of the work as disdain for the Vietnam War, the ideas conflate into a more sinister meaning.
Wendy Carlos — Main Title from The Shining
Carlos is a trailblazer in electronic and film music. Her addition of computerized sounds adds a dehumanizing effect to the music that can remove the audience further from reality. The exceptionally suspenseful soundtrack to The Shining is one of only three soundtracks she worked on that include A Clockwork Orange and Tron.
Jerry Goldsmith — Main Title from Alien
The metamorphosis that this title track goes through is in some ways a direct representation of the movie. The endless and daunting nothingness of space is met with the idea of an idyllic and futuristic path that awaits humans. The tone of the piece changes dramatically when the nothingness that we were afraid of becomes something much worse.
Harry Manfredini — Friday the 13th Suite
Halloween can’t be celebrated without the suite from the film that took the superstitious day of Friday the 13th and made it into a pop-culture scare fest. The Friday the 13th Suite matches the mood of the main antagonist Jason Voorhees — it’s scary, exciting and sometimes corny.
Love the music?
Show your support by making a gift to YourClassical.
Each day, we’re here for you with thoughtful streams that set the tone for your day – not to mention the stories and programs that inspire you to new discovery and help you explore the music you love.
YourClassical is available for free, because we are listener-supported public media. Take a moment to make your gift today.