Music of the Season

Scary Music Notes

Halloween is just around the corner. Time for scary movie fests, zombies and vampires, and mood music. I’m not one for scary movies. In fact I’m probably the only person from my generation who has not seen Psycho or The Exorcist. But I do enjoy evocative classical music.

My kids had a great music teacher in elementary school. He started in the lower grades doing music appreciation. He’d play a piece of music and then ask the kids to tell a story based on the music. Isn’t that how many of us were exposed to classical music in the first place? Watching a story unfold of cartoon characters juxtaposed against great classical pieces in Disney’s Fantasia?

Classical music has, and continues to burst into pop culture in the most unexpected places. Pop, jazz, funk, country, rock, rap, movies, commercials, and games have all lifted melodies from the likes of Bach, Clementi, Mussorgsky, Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms, Holst, Tchaikovsky, Rachmanioff, Dvorjak, and many, many others.

Music also brings back long-forgotten memories. The other day Chopin’s  Fantasie Impromtu in C# Minor was streaming on my favorite station, KDFC, and I was reminded of an o-l-d black-and-white movie I saw while at my grandparents (I was in elementary school, so that was a l-o-n-g- time ago) that had the 1918 pop song I’m Always Chasing Rainbows. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum, 1967) came over the piped in music at the gym. That’s loosely based on Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, Air (commonly known as Air on a G String) and Cantata 140, Sleeper’s Awake. That took me right back to a middle school dance!

So, to get you in the spirit of the season (in case you aren’t already), I share with you my most favorite organ piece: J.S. Bach’s, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. It’s impressive to hear it with great speakers turned up, but it’s unbelievable to watch a master organist in action! We’ll have to settle for this YouTube video of organist Kurt Ison playing the magnificent Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ.

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