Thursday, April 1, 2010

The King of April Fools

With compositions such as Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, The "Goldbrick" Variations, Oedipus Tex, Notebook for Betty-Sue Bach, and the Unbegun Symphony, PDQ Bach is by far the biggest prankster in the classical music world. This is actually quite an accomplishment because, although we look quite serious in performance, most musicians I know appreciate a good joke. When you spend hours at a time in isolation being self-critical (aka practicing), a sense of humor is essential.

Peter Schickele "discovered" PDQ Bach in the cafeteria of The Julliard School. The "last and least" of J.S. Bach's children, his dates are 1807-1742. Many compositions by PDQ Bach call for instruments to be played in unusual ways such as having players blow through the double reeds off of oboes and bassoons, and the tromboon: a trombone with a bassoon reed instead of a mouthpiece. He also frequently uses things that are not often thought of as instruments: balloons, bicycle horns and bells, plastic tubing, and fog horns are several examples. The music is not the easiest to pull off but the humor is so great that it's worth the work.

Some of my favorite pieces by PDQ Bach are The "Erotica" Variations for piano and Banned Instruments, Iphigenia in Brooklyn, and Hansel and Gretel and Ted and Alice.


Don't forget: you can still vote for Lucas for Knoxville's Dancing with the Stars! He makes his dancing debut TONIGHT to benefit East Tennessee Children's Hosptial!!!!!

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