Classical Music for Halloween

A Classical Approach

A rotting grand piano in the concert hall of the abandoned town of Pripyat, Chernobyl. Oktay Ortakcioglu/ Photographer's Choice RF/ Getty Images

Long before a plethora of haunted houses take form and open their doors in towns and cities across the United States days, or even weeks, before October 31st, retailers begin stocking their stores with candy, costumes, makeup, decorations, and more. In fact, you'll likely be ready for Halloween to be over before it even begins. Whatever the case may be, if you find yourself wanting to get away from the typical scary soundtracks, which more often than not feature booing and moaning ghosts, rattling chains, creaking doors, loud claps of thunder, howling wolves, maniacal laugher, hooting owls, and ear-piercing screaming, while still maintaining your Halloween spirit, I've put together a short and concise list of "haunted" classical works that'll keep you happy.

Classical Music for Halloween

As with all forms of art, everyone has their own opinion. Some of you familiar with the music I list below, may have a totally different view or emotional feeling when listening to these pieces. That's okay! The  beauty of music and art is that everyone is entitled to feel or respond in a unique way - there's no right or wrong. With that said, I hope you enjoy my my selections of "scary" classical music.  For easy listening, I've provided links to YouTube.

Tips for Using Classical Music for Halloween

Remember, a scary movie isn't so scary when it's viewed without sound. Try it and see for yourself. It's the music in combination with the imagery that truly makes the a scary film horrifying. If you're not sure how to apply classical music to your Halloween party or haunted house, here are a few helpful tips for you.

  • Gather around a lit fire, either an outdoor fire pit or an indoor fireplace, with the music playing in the background while telling scary Halloween stories and urban legends - Ives' Robert Browning Overture or Schnittke's Concerto Grosso No. 1 would be especially frightening in this situation.
  • Instead of the usual spooky sounds ringing out from your hidden speakers on your front porch while trick-o-treater's receive their candy, try playing Orff's Carmina Burana or Mozart's Dies Irae. It will surely get their little hearts pumping.
  • Hosting a Halloween costume ball? An opening performance of Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5 or Mussorgsky's In the Hall of the Mountain King would be a fitting selection.
  • If you want to give yourself a scare or possibly frighten your family members, play one of these classical pieces while sitting alone in a dimly lit room late at night. Normal sounds made throughout the house seem to become more menacing.
  • Lastly, but certainly not least, Bach's Toccata and Fugue or Liszt's Totentanz would surely make an excellent addition to your haunted house.

Halloween Creativity

Be creative when picking out classical music for your haunted house or party. The classical pieces I listed above are only the tip of a large iceberg. If you don't find these particular songs fitting for your Halloween needs, but you like the idea of playing classical music for Halloween, research your favorite scary movies and find out which songs are used in their soundtracks. Many horror films have at least one classical piece of music on their soundtrack.