Danse Macabre

Sitting in my apartment, listening to the winds howling outside in the super-typhoon that’s currently hitting Japan.  The wind is actually shakinf the apartment building (and I live 10 floors up!).  Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre couldn’t be a more aptly fitting piece right now for such a dark and stormy night; actually, I’m currently obsessed with it.  It’s a very interesting composition, based off much of the mythology and folklore that surround the character and concept of “Death” as pertains to French superstition.  The piece is based off the poem by Henri Cazalis and translated into English, reads:

Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking a tomb with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
The winter wind blows, and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden trees.
White skeletons pass through the gloom,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
You can hear the cracking of the bones of the dancers.
A lustful couple sits on the moss
So as to taste long lost delights.
Zig zig, zig, Death continues
The unending scraping on his instrument.
A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked.
Her partner grasps her amorously.
The lady, it’s said, is a marchioness or baroness
And her green gallant, a poor cartwright.
Horror! Look how she gives herself to him,
Like the rustic was a baron.
Zig, zig, zig. What a saraband!
They all hold hands and dance in circles.
Zig, zig, zag. You can see in the crowd
The king dancing among the peasants.
But hist! All of a sudden, they leave the dance,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.
Oh what a beautiful night for the poor world!
Long live death and equality!

You can listen to the piece and read more about the significance of the music on Youtube:

I have had a long-time love of the violin and have been listening to some more modern violin pieces.  The violin is actually considered the “Devil’s Instrument” because of its connection to dance (and the subsequent outrage of the Church at dance).  If you enjoy listening to violin pieces I recommend Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, and for more modern tastes aka “Street Violin”, you can check out Black Violin or Josh Vietti.

The photo was taken by me in Prague at the Saint Vitus Cathedral.  Nothing like some terrifying Gothic architecture to set the mood.

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