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.
A graveyard lies still in the dark, silent night. A harp plays twelve soft notes - the sound of a distant bell tolling midnight - and all is still once more. Out of nowhere, a violin cackles, piercing the air - it is the fiddle of Death calling to him his followers. Slowly, they rise out of their graves to the sound of a lone flue and begin a hellish dance - they dance, for it is Hallows’ Eve.
Death now joins the flute, playing the same melody on his fiddle, but adding to it a new vitality. For two dead lovers, long rotten and covered in mold, he plays a soft, romantic tune, but he soon returns to his followers, which now grow in number, and plays with them again. The motif that introduced the skeletons is repeated, but now it is not played by Death’s lone fiddle: an entire orchestra of the dead play the passage.
The dead dance - king with peasant, thief with judge - as their bones, ice-cold xylophones, rattle. The dance grows into a fiery pirouette: skeletons spiral and twirl around each other frantically as Death stands above them, fiddling on a tombstone. A stray hand grabs the cloak that Death is dressed in and yanks down; the cloak tumbles down and Death skeletal body stands, naked, playing even more passionately than before. The lovers’ bodies intertwine in a frenzy, and soon they are engulfed by legions of the dancing dead.
The sea of rotting bones swells and grows, and out of it emerges Death, standing triumphant. His fiddle and the orchestra escalate into a violent cacophony, crescendoing until they reach a stunning climax. And then, in just one moment, the horde implodes upon itself.
The dead fall into their graves, Death stands alone, and the graveyard, once again lies still. A trumpet plays a fanfare - the sound of a rooster crowing, heralding the coming of the rising Sun - and Death walks away, humming a quiet melody, a sly smile painted across his face.
Wrote this on a whim, my second time reviewing classical music. Please listen to this, it's not very long and also check out Vladimir Horowitz's transcription for solo piano - it's just as good as the orchestral version. The piece is based upon a poem by Calizas which I quote at the top, and I tried to blend the music with the concept in my writing. Hope that you'll enjoy it!
By the way, I'm going up North to visit some old friends tomorrow, I probably won't be on Sputnik very much until Monday.