|Camille Saint-Saëns Opus 40|
Danse MacabreDances Time: 7'00.
|Buy sheetmusic for this work at SheetMusicPlus|
Danse macabre, Op. 40 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns is an art song for voice and piano (first performed in 1872) with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis which is based in an old French superstition. Two years later, the composer expanded and reworked the piece into a tone poem for orchestra, replacing the vocal line with a solo violin.
According to legend, "Death" appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death calls forth the dead from their graves to dance their dance of death for him while he plays his fiddle represented by a solo violin with its E-string tuned to an E-flat in an example of scordatura tuning. His skeletons dance for him until the rooster crows at dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.
The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, D, twelve times which is accompanied by soft chords from the string section. This then leads to the E flat and A chords also known as a tritone or the "Devil's chord", and the solo violin's E string is tuned a half step lower to create this effect played by a solo violinist, which represents death. After which the main theme is heard on a solo flute and is followed by a descending scale on the solo violin which is accompanied by soft chords from the string section, particularly the lower instruments of the string section, followed by the full orchestra who then joins in on the descending scale. The main theme and the scale is then heard throughout the various sections of the orchestra until it breaks to the solo violin and the harp playing the scale. The piece becomes more energetic and climaxes with the full orchestra playing very strong dynamics. Towards the end of the piece, there is another violin solo, now in modulation, which is then joined by the rest of the orchestra. The final section represents the dawn breaking and the skeletons returning to their graves.
Danse macabre is scored for an obbligato violin, as well as the following orchestra:
An English translation of the poem follows:
When Danse macabre first premiered, it was not received well. Audiences were quite unsettled by the disturbing, yet innovative,[dubious ] sounds that Saint-Saëns elicited. Shortly after the premiere, it was transcribed into a piano arrangement by Franz Liszt (S.555), a good friend of Saint-Saëns. It was again later transcribed into a popular piano arrangement by virtuoso pianist Vladimir Horowitz. The pipe organ transcription by Lemare is also popular.
Danse macabre in popular media
Danse macabre has been used as background music in many movies and television series, including:
Other uses include:
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Danse_Macabre_(Saint-Sa%C3%ABns)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs
Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet
Ave Verum Corpus
Choeur Des Marias
Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Organ"
Violin and Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor
Samson and Delilah