Halloween is upon us which can only mean one thing. Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique: Episode in the Life of an Artist.
The artist is a young man (Berlioz himself) who has a series of opium induced visions. Think Jim Morrison.
The 4th and 5th movements are particularly spooky.
In the 4th, the young man is being escorted, in his opium haze, to the scaffold and thinking of his beloved, whom he has murdered.
His thoughts are cut short by the blade of the guillotine.
The 5th movement has two distinct sections. The first is a statement of the Dies irae from the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.
The second is called "The Witches Sabbath".
What does it all mean? I'm not sure, I've never been hopped up on opium.
I do know that this symphony exceeds the previous limits of the symphonic form which were established by Beethoven.
Symphonie Fantastique is also the first program music.
This means Berlioz is trying to write the soundtrack to a story in the form of a symphony. He is trying to use music to portray specific events.
In essence this is the beginning of the motion picture score.