A Mystic Story for Synthesizer and Band
HALLOWEEN is celebrated on the night of October 31st, before the feast of All Hallows on November 1st. The name HALLOWEEN is derived from the expression “All Hallows Eve” (eve or even and hallow are older forms of evening and holy). Because of the connection with All Hallows, HALLOWEEN was originally only celebrated in the Roman Catholic areas of the British Isles, particularly in Ireland. As a result of the high numbers of Irish emigrants, the tradition was brought to the USA, where it developed into an important popular festival before finally returning to Europe in a highly commercialised and much altered form. Typical symbols of HALLOWEEN nowadays are the pumpkin ghost Jack-O’-Lantern, demons, witches with pointed hats, black cats, gnomes, dwarves, vampires and many other creatures. The pumpkin, hollowed out and used as a lantern, has become a synonym for HALLOWEEN in the USA. According to a legend, the blacksmith Jack O., who was known as a ruffian and drinker, made a pact with the Devil, who promised Jack to make him the best blacksmith in all the land for seven years if he sold him his soul. Jack agreed to the bargain and, as a sign of his newly-gained skill, hung up a hollowed-out pumpkin with a lantern inside at the door of his forge. As in many such legends and stories, Jack also came to a bad end, his punishment being to wander through the world for all time bearing his jack-o’-lantern.
The composition HALLOWEEN NIGHT by Kees Vlak tells a story about an old castle in Ireland. In the remaining ruins strange sounds can be heard from the dark, deep cellars. Grey mist floats through the corridors and chambers filled with cobwebs and dust. A broken old music box suddenly starts up and begins to play Irish folk tunes. The wind sighs through the ruins and the ghosts suddenly appear. After a brief introduction the “Mephisto Waltz” begins at this point, capricious, not always in ¾ time and filled with suspense. The skeletons in their cobwebbed garments sway and dance through the rooms, their numbers continually increasing. Suddenly the church tower strikes one o’clock. In the dark night the ghosts distribute the lit pumpkins throughout the land. Jack-O’-Lantern appears with his followers – gnomes, witches, demons and many others – and celebrates a wild feast, creating a gigantic row which breaks off abruptly. In the sudden silence the singing of monks can be heard from a distant monastery. The church tower strikes four o’clock, and the eerie entourage of Jack-O’-Lantern gradually vanishes back into the old ruin. The church tower strikes five o’clock – daybreak is approaching and the haunting comes to an end.
The synthesizer, the solo instrument in HALLOWEEN NIGHT, plays a significant role in its creation of the atmosphere as well as special effects.
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