This week, the fifth graders have been learning about Danse Macabre, a tone poem composed by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. A tone poem is "a piece of orchestral music, typically in one movement, on a descriptive or rhapsodic theme" (source) Danse Macabre is based on a poem (of the same name) written by Henri Cazalis- you can read the translation from French to English below:
Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zig, on his violin.
The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden-trees.
Through the gloom, white skeletons pass,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking.
The bones of the dancers are heard to crack-
But hist! of a sudden they quit the round,
They push forward, they fly; the rooster has crowed.
We discussed the story behind the poem, and how it served as an inspiration for Saint-Saëns. We followed a listening map and identified the various themes in the music.
It's an amazing piece of music, with haunting melodies and an incredible violin solo- please check it out below!