#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalHumor Week 1

This month’s Classics a Day theme is a tribute to the late Peter Schickle. Schickle was a talented composer of both classical and film music. He’s best remembered, though, for his alter ego, PDQ Bach.

PDQ Bach was the youngest and least talented of Johann Sebastian Bach’s children. The music by him that Peter Schickle “discovered” is musical humor at its most sublime. The more one knows about classical music, the funnier PDQ Bach pieces are. The works reference virtually every aspect of classical music, from familiar themes to nomenclature. 

But Schickle wsn’t the first composer to have some fun with “serious” music. The challenge this month is to post examples of musical humor in classical works. Although most of my posts are PDQ Bach, an equal number aren’t. Here are my posts for the first week of #ClassicalHumor.

04/01/24 PDQ Bach: Twelve Quite Heavenly Songs S.16

One of PDQ Bach’s more ambitious song cycles is this set of twelve lieder based on the signs of the Zodiac (sort of).

04/02/24 Lord Berners: Funeral March for a Rich Aunt

Lord Berners was Gerald Hugh Tyrwitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners. Although he was a early 20th C. avant gardist, he could never quite suppress his sense of humor.

04/03/24 PDQ Bach: Cantata Blaues Gras

Bach composed this work while at Wein-am-Rhine. It was commissioned by Tommy Mann and the Magic Mountain Boys, a roving group of musicians playing instruments from the American colonies.

04/04/24 Dmitri Shostakovich: Gallop, from “The Nose”

Shostakovich’s 1927 opera involves a nose who runs away from its face and causes mayhem. The music matches the absurd plot, which features a human-size dancing nose.

04/05/24 PDQ Bach: Iphigenia in Brooklyn, S.53162

The title of this cantata plays off a couple of things. The Schickle  number of this work references the cantatas written by Georg Philipp Telemann and Christoph Graupner. They number in the thousands for each composer. Second, several composers set the stories of Iphigenia in Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris. So having her land someplace else seemed only natural.


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