I'm Rachel Lowry, the Des Moines Symphony's Music Librarian and Youth Orchestras Manager. I was asked to put together a playlist of classical pieces perfect for Halloween. I chose a mix of spooky, creepy, and macabre numbers, including a piece used in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (De Natura Sonoris by Krzystof Penderecki) and a couple of works by Gustav Mahler.
Death was a close friend of Mahler, having lost half of his siblings very early in their lives. Symphony No. 1 in D, III. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen, uses a popular children’s tune alternated with an unsettling dance that feels as though Death is smiling and waiting for us at every turn. Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in A minor, IV. Finale: Sostenuto-Allegro moderato-Allegro energico includes two (or three) hammer blows, often quoted by Mahler’s wife as being the “blows of fate befallen by the hero” which she assigns to a fatal cardiac diagnosis for their daughter, forced resignation from the Vienna Opera, and his leaving Vienna.