Musical Mayhem: Top 5 Creepy Classics

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From the ancient "Day of the Dead" ("Dies Irae") melody to musical depictions of ghouls, witches and haunted mountains, composers for centuries have tapped into their darker sides to serve up deliciously devilish music. Halloween is the perfect time to pay heed to a few sinister strains from the world of classical music. And, if the candy runs out, try these tunes on the trick-or-treaters.

1. Stravinsky

Stravinsky

With its pounding percussion, blasting brass and heart-racing rhythms, Stravinsky's "Infernal Dance" will pump up the kids without the aid of any Tootsie Rolls, Snickers or Twizzlers.

Leopold Stowkowski conducts the Berlin Philharmonic. (EMI 65207)

2. Saint-Saens

Saint-Saens

The devil perches on a gravestone in a cemetery. Skeletons dance around him while he scratches out a tune on his fiddle. Who could ask for a more fiendish setting? Within this ghoulish scene, Saint-Saens weaves a hummable melody that bores into the brain. Charles Dutoit conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra (London 414460)

3. Manuel De Falla

De Falla

Here's another fiendish fiddle tune — replete with screeching strings and hammering piano — bound to keep the kids on edge. Rachel Barton, violin; Patrick Sinozich, piano. (Cedille 041)

4. Franz Liszt

Liszt

If Franz Liszt answered the door on Halloween, he might be handing out either Bibles or wormy apples. A musical Jekyll and Hyde, Liszt was deeply in touch with his dark side, but also a man of the cloth. This Mephisto Waltz is one of several of his musical depictions of the devil in three-quarter time. George Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (London 443444)

5. Hector Berlioz

Berlioz

Nothing induces trembling quite like a bad dream. Hector Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" is something of a 45-minute musical nightmare. In the opium-induced "Dream of the Witches' Sabbath," ghouls ride their broomsticks to a demonic orgy. Paavo Jarvi conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. (Telarc 60578)

Mark Perzel is a 30-year radio veteran and the executive producer at WGUC-FM, Cincinnati's Classical Public Radio.

Cincinnati-based WGUC plays classical music 24 hours a day, reaching out to both classical newcomers and longtime aficionados.

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Carl Orff: Carmina Burana/Igor Stravinsky:The Firebird Suite

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  • Album: Carl Orff: Carmina Burana/Igor Stravinsky:The Firebird Suite
  • Artist: Leopold Stokowski
  • Label: EMI
  • Released: 1994
 

Instrument of the Devil

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  • Album: Instrument of the Devil
  • Artist: Rachel Barton Pine
  • Label: Cedille
  • Released: 1998
 

Mephisto Magic

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  • Album: Mephisto Magic
  • Artist: Georg Solti
  • Label: London
  • Released: 1994
 

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14; Love Scene from Roméo et Juliette

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  • Album: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14; Love Scene from Roméo et Juliette
  • Artist: Paavo Järvi
  • Label: Telarc
 

Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals

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  • Album: Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals
  • Artist: Charles Dutoit
  • Label: London
  • Released: 1986
 

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