Danse Macabre Opus 40 (1874)

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saindans.nwc (April 2001) 38 kB
Full name of work:Danse Macabre Opus 40 (1874)
Composer:Saint-Saens [Saint-Saëns], Camille (1835-1921), French
Lyricist:Henri Cazalis
First line:Zig et zig et zag, la mort en cadence
Music category:Poÿme Symphonique
Instruments:Full Orchestra
Name of file creator:Richard Woodroffe
e-mail address:richard "dot" woodroffe "at" tinyonline "dot" co "dot" uk
Running time:00:06:44
Comments:Based on verses by Henri Cazalis and quoting the 'Dies Irae'. It represents death playing the violin for a dance of skeletons - a legendary conception which goes back to the middle ages.
In the Frontispiece to the Orchestral version, only part of the poem is quoted. There is though, a piano version where the whole of the poem by Henri Cazalis is sung. (also available from the scriptorium) The first 12 measures represent the clock chiming midnight, the witching hour.
I reproduce below the entire poem and a translation.
Zig et zig et zag, la Mort en cadence
Frappant une tombe avec son talon,
La mort ÿ minuit joue un air de danse,
Zig et zig et zag, sur son violon.
Le vent d'hiver souffle, et la nuit est sombre,
Des gÿmissements sortent des tilleuls;
Les squelettes blancs vont ÿ travers l'ombre
Courant et sautant sous leurs grands linceuls,
Zig et zig et zag, chacun se trÿmousse,
On entend claquer les os des danseurs,
Un couple lascif s'asseoit sur la mousse
Comme pour goÿter d'anciennes douceurs.
Zig et zig et zag, la mort continue
De racler sans fin son aigre instrument.
Un voile est tombÿ! La danseuse est nue!
Son danseur la serre amoureusement.

La dame est, dit-on, marquise ou baronne.
Et le vert galant un pauvre charron -
Horreur! Et voilÿ qu'elle s'abandonne
Comme si le rustre ÿtait un baron!

Zig et zig et zig, quelle sarabande!
Quels cercles de morts se donnant la main!
Zig et zig et zag, on voit dans la bande
Le roi gambader auprÿs du vilain!

Mais psit! tout ÿ coup on quitte la ronde,
On se pousse, on fuit, le coq a chantÿ
Oh! La belle nuit pour le pauvre monde!
Et vive la mort et l'ÿgalitÿ!
English Translation:Jig, jig, jig, Death in cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Jig, jig, jig, on his violin.
The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the lime trees.
White skeletons flit across the gloom,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Tap, tap, tap, everyone's astir,
You hear the bones of the dancers knock,
A lustful couple sit down on the moss,
As if to savour past delights.
Tap, tap, tap, Death continues,
Endlessly scraping his shrill violin.
A veil has slipped! The dancer's naked!
Her partner clasps her amorously.
They say she's a baroness or marchioness,
And the callow gallant a poor cartwright.
Oh what Horror! Now she's giving herself,
As though the lout were a baron!
Tap, tap, tap, what a saraband!
Circles of corpses all holding hands!
Tap, tap, tap, in the throng you can see
King and peasant dancing together!
But shh! Suddenly the dance is ended,
They jostle and take flight - the cock has crowed;
Ah! Nocturnal beauty shines on the poor!
And long live death and equality!
This NoteWorthy file uses a non standard font. This can be obtained as follows:
Boxmarks - Scriptorium download at http://nwc-scriptorium.org/helpful/boxmarks.zip
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