1874: Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre, age 39

SUNDAY, August 23, 2020 – 8:59 PM

Danse Macabre, popular for 145 years…

This music by Camille Saint-Saëns was first performed in 1875. At the time it was new, unusual, so it was popular music. It’s been popular ever since.

The mighty tritone…

It’s always so erie. When you hear the tritone, you know that there is drama, tension or some kind of action.

Now, the music, and these kids are amazing…

It’s the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under Dudamel. What he did with these young people is lengendary.

More recordings:


Translation of the poem that inspired the music:

Zig and zig and zig, death in rhythm
Hitting a grave with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance tune,
Zig and zig and zag, on his violin.

The winter wind blows, and the night is dark,
Moans come from the lime trees;
The white skeletons go through the shadow
Running and jumping under their big shrouds,

Zig and zig and zig, each one wiggles,
We hear the bones of the dancers banging,
Lascivious couple sits on moss
As if to taste old sweets.

Zig and zig and zag, Death continues
Scraping endlessly his harsh-sounding violin.
A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked!
Her partner squeezes her lovingly.

The lady is said to be a marquise or a baroness.
And the gallant green a poor cartwright – Horror!
And now she surrenders
As if the boor was a baron!

Zig and zig and zig, what a saraband!
What circles of dead, all holding hands!
Zig and zig and zag, we see in the crowd
The king frolicking with peasant!

But psit! Suddenly the dance is over,
One pushes, one flees : the rooster crowed
Oh ! A beautiful night for the poor world!
And live Death and Equality!



8 thoughts on “1874: Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre, age 39

    1. To me this makes what is happening now in Venezuela very painful. Politics aside, something magic was going on there, and I have to assume the political turmoil has ruined this program along with just about everything else. I assume you know where Dudamel is now.

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