Classical Music Inspired by History’s Darkest Chapters

Source: Big Think.

The terrifying scores of genre-defining horror movies The Exorcist and The Shining were inspired by Krzysztof Penderecki’s 1961 classical music composition “Polymorphia” and the Polish avant-garde movement from which it originated. “Polymorphia,” as explained in a video from the YouTube channel Sound Field, combines sound masses with tone clusters to create an overwhelming cacophony of noise that is as disorienting as it is unnerving. The resulting soundscape, Sound Field notes, “helped take The Exorcist to a demonic dimension.”

But these scores, though terrifying, are nothing compared to the classical music compositions on this list, each of which was inspired by—and composed to channel the emotions of—some of the deadliest and most tragic events in human history. While many employ the same compositional techniques discussed above, their true power lies in their relationship with their subject and the way they bring it to life.