Real Old School
Classical Music Worth Curating
Let’s kick off this new classical music series with something heavy.
Today’s episode of On the Media was entitled “Staring Into the Abyss” and featured a fascinating discussion of nihilism, its historic roots and contemporary manifestations (building off a prior conversation on RadioLab).
It got me thinking about death and as I was cooking up some crepes for a breakfast/lunch, I turned to my iPod for a soundtrack.
I sampled 2 pieces which share the same name and theme of a Dance of the Dead: Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns and Totentaz by Franz Liszt.
Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s came first, seeing its final iteration in 1859. French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote his in 1874.
Saint-Saëns’s is definitely more listenable – and the opening (and repeated) violin double-stops are killer. Love it!
Liszt is a bit more heavy handed (literally), perhaps going a bit overboard in pounding out low notes on the piano. Definitely scary sounding, but perhaps a little bit obvious. I once saw it performed by the Oradea Symphony Orchestra (in Romania, 1999) and live, it was powerful.