Saint-Saëns – Dance Macabre

Composer: C. Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Duration: a. 6 minutes
Price: £30
Grade: 6-8+
Instrumentation: 10 Trumpet Ensemble (1st on Eb or picc)

This characterful tone poem by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns was written in 1872 as a song, later being expanded and reworked for orchestra and solo violin. It was not received well by audiences on it’s inaugural performance, with comments of ‘horrible screeching solo violin’ and ‘hypnotic repetitions’. However today it is widely considered one of the composer’s masterpieces, and is consistently used throughout popular culture.
For example, it is used within Disney’s ‘Mickey’s House of Villains’, BBC TV show ‘Jonathan Creek’, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and even ‘Shrek the Third’ plus others too numerous to mention.

I wrote this arrangement during the COVID-19 lockdown. It had been on my list of items that I thought would work extremely well for trumpet ensemble for a long while. I think the themes, drama, intensity and flow of the piece all translate really nicely, with special uses of mutes and flugelhorn.

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