13 spooky pieces of Halloween music for children
22 October 2020, 14:01 | Updated: 30 October 2020, 13:09
This Halloween, treat (or trick) your kids to these spooky and fun pieces of classical music.
Whether you’re carving pumpkins or getting ready to go trick-or-treating, here are the best classical pieces to get children into the spirit of Halloween.
The Addams Family – Victor Mizzy
The Addams family themselves are pretty spooky, but the music is undeniably charming for a theme about a haunted house and family. This version takes its opening from Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor, one of the eeriest tunes in classical music.
The Twilight Zone – Jerry Goldsmith
Have you ever wondered where that creepily dissonant “DO-do-do-do, DO-do-do-do” tune comes from? Look no further. The theme tune to this series is the perfect piece to create a spooky atmosphere.
Danse Macabre – Saint Saëns
This has to take the crown for the most truly terrifying piece of classical music. Saint-Saëns’ dark little dance emulates Death, who makes the dead rise from their graves on Halloween and dance to the sinister tune on his violin. *shudders*
The Skeleton Dance – Disney
‘The Skeleton Dance’ comes from a 1929 Disney short film called Silly Symphony, and it’s a perfect example of classical music at its most creative. The light-hearted music scores the dancing skeletons’ movements with various percussion instruments – and one of the skeletons themselves even gets used as a glockenspiel.
A Night on the Bare Mountain – Modest Mussorgsky
‘Night on Bald Mountain’ – also known as ‘A Night on the Bare Mountain’ – was included in the soundtrack to Disney’s Fantasia. It’s a frightening Mussorgsky masterpiece perfect for kids.
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Edvard Grieg
Grieg wrote his masterpiece of tension-building music as incidental music to accompany a scene of set in a cave full of trolls, gnomes and goblins in Henrik Ibsen’s play, Peer Gynt. This is one for the adults as much as the kids...
Hungarian Dance No.5 – Johannes Brahms
Brahms’ fun dance has a slightly sinister edge, particularly in its opening. It’s a great piece of music to accompany a game of musical chairs – perfect for brightening up a languishing Halloween party.
Romeo and Juliet: Dance of the Knights – Sergei Prokofiev
You might recognise it as the ‘Getting-fired-in-the-boardroom’ song – but while some associate this piece with Lord Sugar, it actually comes from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. It’s wonderfully dark, and perfect for Halloween.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Paul Dukas
Thanks to the influence of a certain Mr Walt Disney, Dukas’ impish theme will forever be associated with images of Mickey Mouse attempting to chop up an army of possessed mops. We’re not complaining.
Funeral March of a Marionette – Charles Gounod
This piece is all about the funeral of a puppet – specifically, a marionette. The piece begins as the funeral procession commences; then, a central major section depicts the mourners taking refreshments, before returning to the funeral march at the end of the piece.
Hansel and Gretel: Prelude 'The Witch’s Ride' – Engelbert Humperdinck
This music scores the witch’s ride in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. The child-friendly story has been told time and time again, but never quite like this.
Carnival of the Animals: Aquarium – Saint-Saëns
This piece isn’t technically supposed to be scary, but there is an eerie feeling to this aquatic music that is perfect for child-friendly Halloween celebrations.
Carnival of the Animals: Fossils – Saint-Saëns
‘Fossils’, another movement from Saint-Saëns’ colourful piece Carnival of the Animals, is dedicated to everyone’s favourite extinct beasts. The composer cleverly uses the xylophone to evoke the image of skeletons playing card games, their bones clacking together to the beat. It also hints at the instrumentation Saint-Saëns used in his even creepier Danse Macabre.