Danse macabre, Op. 40, is a tone poem for orchestra, written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It started out in 1872 as an art song for voice and piano with a French text by the poet Henri Cazalis, which is based on an old French superstition. In 1874, the composer expanded and reworked the piece into a tone poem, replacing the vocal line with a solo violin.
Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP (Look for Arrangements and Transcriptions) or borrow a copy from the O’Connor Music Studio. I have this arranged for organ, piano, duet, simplified…
Amazon has a great Dover edition for solo piano. This splendid compilation features a variety of the composer’s best piano works, all reproduced from authoritative sources. Taking its title from the popular orchestral work “Danse Macabre” (presented here in the brilliant arrangement by Liszt), this collection also includes “Allegro appassionato,” “Album” (consisting of six pieces), “Rhapsodie d’Auvergne,” “Theme and Variations,” plus six etudes, three waltzes, and six etudes for left hand alone.
• 1941 ~ Everything I Love, by Buddy Clark, was recorded this day, number 6469 on the Okeh label.
• 1943 ~ Lee (Melvin) Greenwood, CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, 1983 and 1984, sax, piano, band leader
• 1957 ~ The Crickets started a three-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘That’ll Be The Day’. It was also a No.3 hit in the US where it went on to sell over a million. The song was inspired by a trip to the movies by Holly, Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis in June 1956. The John Wayne film The Searchers was playing and Wayne’s frequently-used, world-weary catchphrase, “that’ll be the day” inspired the young musicians.
• 1958 ~ Simon LeBon, Singer with Duran Duran
• 1975 ~ Rocker Bruce Springsteen appeared on the cover of both TIME and Newsweek. Things were certainly going well for ‘The Boss’ that week.
• 2000 ~ Walter Berry, a bass baritone who won acclaim for his interpretations of Mozart and Strauss and was beloved by Austrians for his renditions of Schubert, died of a heart attack at the age of 71. Known for the powerful timbre of his voice, Berry was a prolific performer who sang 100 different roles in more than 1,280 appearances at the Vienna State Opera. His U.S. debut was a 1963 performance with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His interpretations of classical lieder by fellow Austrian Franz Schubert won him his most loyal following. Austrians who rarely went to the opera loved Berry for his renditions of popular Viennese songs performed as they believed only a native- born son could. In 1989, he became a professor at the Vienna University for Music and Performing Arts.
• 2001 ~ John Roberts, a promoter of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969, died of cancer. He was 56. Roberts produced the festival concert with three others, almost by accident. The idea originally was a pitch for a television comedy show about two young venture capitalists with money but no business plans. Roberts and his partners funded the festival with Roberts’ inheritance and ticket sales. They lost $2.3 million but recovered their loss with royalties from film and album spinoffs, and held on to the profitable name and trademark symbol of a dove on the neck of a guitar. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Roberts later invested in other companies, avoiding the music business. Roberts also was a championship bridge player.
• 2006 ~ Amy Winehouse released her second and final studio album Back to Black. The album spawned five singles: ‘Rehab’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’, ‘Back to Black’, ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ and ‘Love Is a Losing Game’ and won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Back to Black sold 3.58 million copies in the UK alone, becoming the UK’s second best-selling album of the 21st century. Worldwide, the album has sold over 20 million copies.
The final movement is the best known part of the symphony, thanks to its use in the Julia Roberts movie, Sleeping With The Enemy. It features a four-part structure, which Berlioz described in his own program notes from 1845 as follows:
“He sees himself at a witches’ Sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the Sabbath… Roar of delight at her arrival… She joins the diabolical orgy… The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies irae.”
The Dies irae melody is one of the most-quoted in musical literature, appearing in the works of many diverse composers.
The traditional Gregorian melody has also been used as a theme or musical quotation in a number of classical compositions, notable among them: