#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalHumor Week 3

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 wasn’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 third week of #ClassicalHumor.

04/15/24 Franz Reizenstin: Concerto populare (A piano concerto to end all piano concertos)

This work was premiered at the first Hoffnung Festival, dedicated to humorous classical music. The pianist and orchestra engage in a contest of wills, Grieg’s concerto vs. Tchaikovsky’s, each playing their preferred work.

04/16/24 Paul Hindemith: Flying Dutchman Overture as Played by a Bad Spa Orchestra at 7am by the Well

Hindemith’s humor has two subjects in this one work. Superficially, it makes fun of the lesser musicians many spa towns employed. But it’s also a dig at Wagner. Even the title pokes fun at his portentous operas.

04/17/24 PDQ Bach: Missa Hilarious (S.NO2)

Bach had briefly converted to Catholicism but wasn’t a member of the church long. This mass, for example, earned him an excommunication. This mass, like his other religious works, was placed on the church’s index of proscribed books.

04/18/24 Florence Foster Jenkins: Queen of the Night Aria

Jenkins was a society matron who wanted to be an opera singer in the worst way — and she was. And she was wildly popular. While the audience came to hear her mangle arias, it was never clear if Jenkins herself was in on the joke.

04/19/24 PDQ Bach: Konzertshtick for Two Violins Mit Orchestra (S 2+)

Normally a concert piece for two instruments provides a balance between the two soloists. But in this case, it’s hardly a fair fight.

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