Chillers and Thrillers
Overture to The Flying Dutchman
The self-sacrificing love of a woman was often portrayed by Wagner as an instrument of spiritual salvation. The idea was almost an obsession with him. In The Flying Dutchman it is the love of Senta, “faithful unto death”, which alone can release the Dutchman, Vanderdecken, from the curse upon him. The beginning of the overture represents a storm, through the tumult of which is hurled the motive of the curse laid on the Dutchman. The tempest subsides with distant mutterings, and after a short pause we hear the passive strains of Senta’s ballad. The original tempo is resumed and the two themes exposed thus far are thrown into riotous ferment. The two principal motives alternate and develop in vigorous opposition, the motive of the Dutchman gaining force, Senta’s theme growing in breadth and expansiveness to form a majestic close to the overture.
The Danse Macabre was one of Saint-Saens immediate successes in music. It was performed so often that he relegated the principal theme to the land of the fossils in his Carnival of the Animals. In the Danse Macabre the clock strikes midnight, a skeleton rises from the grave, sits on his tombstone, tunes and plays the fiddle, which brings forth all the other skeletons in the graveyard for a revel of dancing. As dawn breaks the skeletons scamper back into their graves, and again all is quiet. In this transcription the alto saxophones represent the fiddler at the tombstone.
Dance of the Witches from The Witches of Eastwick
In the 1987 movie The Witches of Eastwick, three women are lamenting the availability of single men ion the New England town of Eastwick. A mysterious man, Daryl (played by Jack Nicholson) befriends the women and begins to seduce all three. The women become outcasts in the town and finally turn to witchcraft in order to rid themselves of Daryl and his influence over them. John William’s brilliant score for this film was nominated for an Academy Award.
March to the Scaffold from Symphonie Fantastique
In December of 1830 the Symphonie Fantastique of Hector Berlioz was premiered in Paris. This historical composition tells the autobiographical story of Berlioz’s infatuation with the Irish actress Harriet Smithson. In the fourth movement of the Symphonie Fantastique Berlioz has killed his beloved and is being marched off to his execution by the angry mob. As the movement reaches its conclusion, Berlioz remembers his love for her with the idee fixe, a theme that permeates the entire symphony, played by the clarinet. The blade of the guillotine falls and kills the murderer. Shouts of joy erupt from the crowd and the movement comes to a tumultuous end.
Night on Bare Mountain
This early composition by Modest Mussorgsky has the distinction of being one of the earliest “Tone Poems” by a Russian composer. Mussorgsky sent an outline of the program to the Russian music critic Vladimir Stasov: Subterranean sounds of supernatural voices…appearance of the spirits of darkness, followed by that of Satan himself…glorification of Satan and the celebration of the Black Mass…the Sabbath…at the height of the orgies the bell of the village church, sounding in the distance, disperses the spirits of darkness…daybreak.
Phantom of the Opera
In 1986 the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered the most successful musical of all time. Phantom of the Opera, based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux, has become the longest running Broadway musical ever. With box office receipts totaling over 5.1 billion dollars it can easily lay claim to being the most profitable show of all time. As of 2011, over 130 million people in 145 cities in 27 countries have seen the musical. Warren Barker has skillfully arranged many of the most outstanding songs from the musical for concert band, and it is his arrangement we hear today. Warren Barker had a great career as a composer writing music for television, movies, and radio programs.
Chillers and Thrillers
John Williams is without question the most recognizable name in Hollywood music. This compilation consists of themes of suspense from his varied movie score career. The selections include, Imperial March (from the Empire Strikes Back), Devils Dance (from The Witches of Eastwick), Jaws, Dracula, Escape from the City (from War of the Worlds), The Face of Voldemort (from the Harry Potter series of films), and concludes with a reprise of the Imperial March.