Classical Halloween Piano Music

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With Halloween right around the corner, I’ve been searching high and low for some fun classical Halloween pieces for my students. The fun thing about Halloween music is that it gives students an opportunity to really work on their musical expression. Halloween music is sneaky and spooky, has lots of accents and staccatos and surprising sforzandos, and playing in a minor key is always kind of exciting. Many teachers do fun Halloween recitals where students dress up in costume to perform their pieces. There is a plethora of Halloween-themed teaching pieces available these days, but I wanted to find some classics that could fit well with this theme – and I found so many!

A few of these I discovered by scouring through my well-used copy of Jane Magrath’s The Pianist’s Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature. Her book is amazing for discovering new teaching pieces from beginning levels to early advanced. She ranks each piece in the book by level, Level 1 being Bartok’s Mikrokosmos, Vol. 1 and Level 10 being Bach’s Three-Part Inventions and easiest Chopin Nocturnes. For the pieces I list here that are in her book, I have included her difficulty level.

So enjoy this fun list of Halloween piano pieces! Please comment with other great pieces you would add to this list. Happy Halloween!

Monsterpieces (and Others) by William Bolcom

A set of contemporary pieces for children. Magrath puts this set at a Level 2. Includes titles such as “The Mad Monster” and “The Sad Monster.” Each page has a fun drawing to go with the score.

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3 Ghost Rags by William Bolcom

Three advanced piano solos in a fun ragtime style. Includes “Graceful Ghost Rag,” “Dream Shadows” and “The Poltergeist.”

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A Terrible Tale, Op. 98 No. 11 by Alexander Gretchaninoff

This piece is part of his Opus 98 “Children’s Book.” Magrath rates this piece at a Level 4.

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Deserted House, Deep Forest, and Clowns from For the First Time (Twelve Impressions in a Child’s Day) by Howard Hanson

This is a neat set of imaginative and contemporary pieces for the advancing pianist (Magrath puts them at a level 8). Deserted House is spooky-sounding with some beautiful tonalities. Deep Forest is a chord-based piece with sonorous, contemporary tonalities. Clowns begins with playful, one-note motives and grows to include big chords and an impressive-sounding ending.

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Moonlight Night, Op. 52a by Alan Hovhaness

A rhythmic and wistful contemporary solo that includes mixed modes and near-Eastern scales. (Magrath, Level 4)

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A Witch’s Story, Op. 33 No. 14 and Stormy Stream, Op. 33 No. 18 from Miniatures by Samuel Maykapar

Fine teaching pieces in a Romantic style. Magrath puts these at a Level 7.

Bruxa (The Witch Doll) from Prole do Bebe No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos

Each piece of this set is about a different type of child’s doll, but the pieces themselves are difficult. Magrath puts Bruxa at a level 10.

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Grandmother Tells a Ghost Story, Op. 81 No. 3 from Kinderleben by Theodor Kullak

A lovely, spooky Romantic piece perfect for the intermediate pianist. It is included in this collection of Miniatures edited by Maurice Hinson.

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The Ghost in the Chimney, Op. 81 No. 10 from Kinderleben by Theodor Kullak

Another great teaching piece from Kullak. It’s included in this great collection by the Fabers – Piano Literature for a Dark and Stormy Night.

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The Lame Witch Lurking in the Forest Op. 31 No. 9 by Vladimir Rebikov

A great little spooky piece for Halloween!

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L’Orage (The Storm) Etude Op. 109 No. 13 by Friedrich Burgmuller

Burgmuller has several wonderful teaching pieces that would be excellent for a Halloween-themed recital. They contain a lot of fun articulations and mysterious, minor tonalities, and they are a lot of fun to play!

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Arabesque, Op. 100, No. 2 by Freidrich Burgmuller

Ballade, Op. 100 No. 15 by Freidrich Burgmuller

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The Wild Horseman by Robert Schumann

A great little piece for intermediate students just venturing into the realm of classical music. It is not too difficult but can be played at a quick speed for a nice showy recital piece.

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Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 3 No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Whenever I play this piece I can hear my high school piano teacher’s voice narrating the piece as I played with the story of a fire. She said that the fire slowly started to burn and to grow; as the flames got out of control there was chaos! Panic! Finally it burned down to a few glowing embers that slowly burned out. A wonderful recital piece and motivational piece for a high school student, this is a fabulous example of Rachmaninoff’s trademark big, huge chords and is a blast to play.

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Prelude Op. 28 No. 2 in A minor by Frederic Chopin

A lesser-known prelude from Chopin’s famous set, this has a sad, spooky sound that would be great for a Halloween recital.

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Clairs de Lune, No. 3: Le Cimetiere by Abel Decaux

This little-known set of pieces by French composer and organist Decaux is wonderfully contemporary with beautiful yet spooky sonorities. This movement depicts a cemetery in the moonlight. I love the huge, rich chords that surround the simple, plodding melody; the sound grows and grows and then dies down near the end. I played this piece in college for my senior recital, so it’s one of my faves.

decaux

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Jennifer Boster

4 Responses to “Classical Halloween Piano Music

  • Ethelyn
    1 year ago

    Wow, thank you for all the research and for sharing. Ethelyn /FWMTA

    • Jenny
      1 year ago

      You’re welcome, Ethelyn! I had lots of fun finding all of the music 🙂

  • paula
    1 year ago

    awesome, thank you! I enjoyed this. Do you know “witches in the Wind” by Ernest Adams?

    • Jenny
      1 year ago

      I don’t know that piece – I’ll have to look it up! Thanks!