Classical Music For Halloween: The Masque of the Red Death by Andre Caplet

Good music frequently intersects with other art forms. For instance, it's no accident that we have impressionist music and painting. The philosophies that drove the artist to paint scenes with vivid, blurred colors drove the composers to write vivid, colorful sounding scenes rather than tell stories with rigid form. 

French composer and musician André Caplet decided to compose a work that intersect with the world of American Literature. In 1908 he decided to compose a musical vignette to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death". Poe's works are often associated with Halloween because of their dark subject matter and suspenseful twists. 

You may not have heard of French composer André Caplet before. He won the important Prix De Rome in 1901, beating well known French composer Maurice Ravel. He is also known for his orchestrations of Debussy's works.  Sadly he died of pleurisy resulting from the chemical warfare of World War I. 

The Masque of the Red Death was written in 1908, which was a monumental year in music history. This is the year Arnold Schoenberg wrote his first atonal piece and forever changed the course of western music. Caplet's work is tonal, but still holds many of the qualities of composers in the first decade of the 20th century. Find a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death,"  read it (here's a cheap digital copy on Amazon), and enjoy this masterpiece of the early 20th century.

Listen on Spotify!

Be sure to check out the previous post on Halloween music and explore our composition classes as they offer kids a great way to make music while learning skills like note reading and theory effortlessly.