#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalHumor Week 2

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 second week of #ClassicalHumor.

04/08/24 Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 “Classical Symphony”

Prokofiev wrote this work not as a joke, but as an exercise in composing without a piano. He predicted that critics would say he was “contaminating the pure classical pearls with horrible Prokofievish dissonances.” But he also thought audiences would “just be content to hear happy and uncomplicated music.”

04/09/24 PDQ Bach: The Stoned Guest S.86 proof

Although it seems a parody on Dargomyzhsky’s opera The Stone Guest, this half-act opera actually follows many Classical Era conventions — including grafting a happy ending onto a depressing tragedy. 

04/10/24 Charles Ives: Symphony No. 2

Ives once told someone who was hissing in the audience, “When you hear music like this, sit up and take it like a man!” For Ives, this symphony wasn’t a joke, but rather a poke at the pretentiousness of the classical world. 

04/11/24 PDQ Bach: The Abduction of Figaro (Act 1, Scene 1)

PDQ Bach wasn’t the only composer to write sequel to Mozart’s operas. Just the least qualified to do so. 

04/12/24 Luigi Russolo: Serenata per intorarumori

Russolo invented a family of musical instruments in 1913. They were classified as crackers, bubblers, rumblers, buzzers and so on.

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