Ten More Pieces of Creepy Classical Music

When I’m writing a dark scene for a novel or story, nothing sets the atmosphere like a bit of creepy classical music. One of my most popular blog posts of all time is “Top Ten Pieces of Classical Music to Listen to on a Dark and Stormy Night,” but there are a lot more than ten pieces of horrific classical music. That’s why I compiled this second list of ten more pieces to add to your collection. Ranging from intense and apocalyptic to mystical and eerie, these pieces set the mood for a bit of reading, horror movie soundtracks, or just a night in front of the fireplace with ghosts roaming behind you.

10: “Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), Movement 4” – Antonín Dvořák

The rousing opener of the final movement from the New World Symphony sounds a lot like the music from that movie about the shark… and the head that floats up from the sunken ship… you know the one I’m talking about. We’re going to need a bigger orchestra. Get the mp3

9: “Scarbo” from Gaspard de la nuit – Maurice Ravel

This piece was based on a poem depicting a goblin and his midnight mischief. The rumbling and flitting of the solo piano conveys the goblin’s quick movements, his scratching on the walls, and the shadow he casts against the moonlight. Get the mp3

8: “Infernal Dance” from The Firebird Suite  – Igor Stravinsky

The name pretty much speaks for itself with this one: a wild, frantic, infernal dance forced upon some magical creatures in the ballet about the immortal firebird. Get the mp3

7: “The Isle of the Dead, Op. 29” – Sergei Rachmaninoff

This dark, gloomy symphonic poem was inspired by the painting of the same name, which you can see in the video. The music suggests the movement of Charon’s oars as they row through the river Styx. Get the mp3

6: “Aquarium” from Carnival of the Animals – Camille Saint-Saëns

This mystical, eerie piece depicts the mysteries of the ocean. It makes me think of those alien deep-sea creatures that use lights to lure in their prey in the darkness, or the way sunlight filters strangely through the top layer of water. Get the mp3

5: “Gnomus” from Pictures at an Exhibition – Modest Mussorgsky

By turns abruptly off-balance and insidiously creeping, this movement depicts a gnome running around. Its descending chromatics add to the unsettling nature of the piece. Get the mp3

4: “Dies Irae” from Requiem – Giuseppe Verdi

This terrifying depiction of the Latin funeral rite sounds just like the Apocalypse, don’t you think? Get the mp3

3: “Dance of the Knights” from Romeo and Juliet – Sergei Prokofiev

Dark, sinister, foreboding—and then suddenly quiet, peaceful, but still echoing the dark theme from the beginning. This piece is basically awesome from start to finish. Get the mp3

2: “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” – Krzysztof Penderecki

You may recognize this piece from a little horror film called The Shining, though it is meant to represent the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. It is perhaps the most overtly disturbing piece on the list, with its screeching and scurrying violins, and its use of sudden pizzicato and tremolo. It replaces melody with dissonance and disjointedness, making it somewhat unpleasant to hear. Still, the atmosphere it creates is genuinely frightening—and, as it turns out, perfect horror movie music. Get the mp3

1: “Neptune, the Mystic” from The Planets – Gustav Holst

The theme of distant, mysterious Neptune is eerie, ethereal, otherworldly—and one of the subtler pieces on the list, though it creates much emotional resonance with its dark, unsettling tones and sinister, tinkling celeste. The ghostly, haunting quality only increases when the choir comes in, making it chilling and beautiful at the same time. It is one of the more underrated and understated movements from the Planets Suite, but it’s perfect for creating the atmosphere of a strange, creepy world quite different from our own. Get the mp3

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4 thoughts on “Ten More Pieces of Creepy Classical Music

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Pieces of Classical Music to Listen to on a Dark and Stormy Night | Joanna Parypinski

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