Squid Game burst onto our screen at the end of September 2021 in a blaze of gore, shock, and mystery. But what audiences probably weren’t expecting, was the appearance of some of classical music’s best known works.
Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major – 00:00
Half an hour into the first episode, the players are woken up by the third and final movement of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major. This piece becomes a chilling theme throughout the rest of the series, garnering the contestants’ attention at critical points and bringing a sense of unease to both the players, and the audience. It’s possible Squid Game chose this piece due to the movement’s virtuosic fanfare-style playing.
With fanfares often used to announce important figures, opening ceremonies such as the Olympics, and to sound the start of a war, this work is a suitable choice for a show which combines all three themes.
Johann Strauss II’s An der schönen, baluen Donau – 4:15
Strauss had been commissioned to write the piece for the Vienna Men’s Choral Society in 1866 in order to lift the spirits of the people of Vienna, due to Prussia’s win in the Austrian-Prussian war, that same year.
Similarly to war, Squid Game has many fatalities, with almost half of all players killed in the first episode. The clever choice of The Blue Danube as an underscore then for events before and after games alludes to the idea that game makers are trying to lift the spirits of the players, who like the people of Vienna in 1866, have also witnessed tragic losses.
Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C major – 13:22
Tchaikovsky composed his Serenade for Strings in C major from his “inner conviction”. Squid Game uses the waltz, the second movement, to mark the end of the second game, and the deliberation involved in the forming of teams for the third.
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