Friday, October 30, 2015

Scary Classics

No. 210 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at


Note - This is also offered as a "tandem" post on Once or Twice a Fortnight (

Tomorrow is Hallowe'en, and I thought we should take this opportunity to consider some musical selections that are "appropriate" for the circumstances.

The first selection in the montage, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is forever associated with either reclusive organ-playing ogres, or classic shots of Gothic castles with assorted thunderstorms. Very cliche, but also very appropriate.

Every small town has a ghost story and this one is from the small municipality of Carleton Place (Ontario), up the Ottawa River valley from my home in Ottawa..

According to local folklore ,the ghost of Ida Moore is still present in the family home - Ida passed away in 1900 from consumption just as she was about to go off to music school to become a teacher. LOcal composer Mark Bailey provides this cute musical sketch inspired by the local legend - over the many years, since the untimely death of Ida, people in the house have reported strange noises, movement of objects, radios being turned off and on and windows being opened and closed.  It is said by all who have encountered Ida that she is a very friendly spirit but one that likes to play tricks on the inhabitants of the house.

The first if two piano trios from Beethoven's opus 70 is known as the Ghost, is one of his best known works in the genre (rivaled only by the Archduke Trio). The D major trio features themes found in the second movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2. The All-Music Guide states that "because of its strangely scored and undeniably eerie-sounding slow movement, it was dubbed the 'Ghost' Trio. The name has stuck with the work ever since. The ghostly music may have had its roots in sketches for a Macbeth opera that Beethoven was contemplating at the time."

And, indeed, three "ghosts" from our recent past collaborate in this rarely-heard radio performance: violinist Alexander Schneider, cellist Zara Nelsova and pianist Glenn Gould.

Two more pieces on th emontage evoke stormy weather, also a classic part of any good scary story - works by American composers Kerry Turner and Wendy Carlos.

We don't think of the movie Fantasia as being a "scary movie" but it does have its scary moments... In addition to the Bach Toccata (heard then under the orchestration of Leopold Stokowski) we also had Paul Dukas' tone poem The Sorcerer's Apprentice and the final tableau, a combination of Schubert's Ave Maria and Mussorgsky's Night at Bald Mountain, juxtaposing Heaven and the Underworld...I  retained the Mussorgsky tone poem, again as orchestrated by the great Stokowski.

To close things off, works by Grieg and Gounod.

I think you will love this music too!