This week’s radio interview will be with Elliott Forrest, formerly one of the disk jockeys on WTWP, now the weekend morning host on WQXR. He’ll be talking to Prof. Schickele on Sunday, December 26, from about 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. They’ll go into fascinating detail about next week’s annual New York P.D.Q. Bach concerts and perhaps discuss other important musical topics of the day. In the New York City area, listen over 96.3 FM. Outside the New York City area, check WQXR’s Web site for information about how to hear their station over the Internet.
And if you don’t learn enough about this year’s concerts from the radio broadcast, you can find more information about them on this very Web site, including a recently-added list of works on the program, a hard-to-find audio sample of one of the works, and the results of the recent DVD survey. Or you can find information about other concerts, including ones recently added to the schedule, such as P.D.Q. Bach and Peter Schickele: The Jekyll and Hyde Tour in Bloomington, Indiana (February 20, 2005), the Cabaret Song Program in Napa Valley, California (March 26, 2005), and a repeat of the St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra’s Schickele Re-Mix concert, this one in Beacon, New York (February 6, 2005); and also including concerts with new works on the program, such as P.D.Q. Bach: The Vegas Years, which now includes (in addition to a new name for the concert) the latest P.D.Q. Bach discovery: the cantata Gott sei dank, daβ heute Freitag ist (“Thank God It’s Friday”).
Peter Schickele has been invited to WNYC’s live radio program Soundcheck to talk about The Lexicon of Music Invective. This unusual book by Nicolas Slonimsky, comprised of unfavorable early reviews of what are now considered great pieces of classical music, has been a favorite of Mr. Schickele’s for so long that he even wrote a new introduction for the book when it was republished a few years ago. Because the Schickele Mix episode devoted to The Lexicon never shows up in reruns, hearing Peter Schickele talk to host John Schaefer may be the next best thing. The show airs on WNYC-FM 93.9 as well as over the internet at http://www.wnyc.org at 2:00 p.m. EST on December 16th. Yes, that’s less than less than a day from now, but less than a day after it was finalized, and if you missed it, it will very likely be archived on the WNYC site. Maybe they’ll even talk about recent P.D.Q. Bach news and the upcoming concerts.
They’re back! The annual New York P.D.Q. Bach concerts in December will take place this year after all! Despite recent announcements stating that this perennial favorite had been cancelled, even announcements in such reliable sources as The Peter Schickele/P.D.Q. Bach Web Site, Prof. Schickele has managed to wrestle Victory from the Jaws of Defeat mere moments before the final Buzzer. Read Prof. Schickele’s own article describing the dates (about the same as every year since 1965), location (not the same as any year since 1965), and music (mostly not the same as has been heard in New York before) of these not-to-be-missed-after-all concerts.
And how would you like to see a DVD of these concerts? No, really, we want to know. If you will tell us whether or not you’d be interested in a DVD of this year’s annual P.D.Q. Bach concerts by filling out the short but simple survey, that will help the producers determine whether or not such a DVD should be made. Here’s a hint: the more people who want one of these, the more likely it is that they’ll be able to make them. So if you’d like to watch a P.D.Q. Bach concert in the privacy of your own home, filling out this no-obligation survey may change the course of musical history.
Back in March, when we announced the original broadcast of Peter Schickele’s appearance on John Clare’s radio program 20/20 Hearing, we also said that it would be rebroadcast in October, but didn’t know the exact broadcast date. Now we do, and it’s Sunday, October 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time. As with the original broadcast, it can be heard on Classical 87.9 KCNV in Nevada as well as over the Internet at http://www.classical897.org/. More information can be found at http://www.classicallyhip.com/about2020.html, including two audio clips of the interview on the show.
Our much more recent announcement of the 2004/2005 Concert Schedule was not quite as accurate. A couple of corrections have been made to the Concert Schedule Page since then, one of which is important only to people in Wyoming who actually know the difference between Laramie and Cheyenne, but one of which is important enough to describe in detail here, especially since the concert is tomorrow. The National Symphony’s opening gala concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. was listed as “sold out”, information we faithfully copied from the National Symphony’s own Web site without paying much attention to the notice that one should “check online here regularly for last-minute availability”. Well, last-minute availability appears to have just happened, so if it’s not too last minute for you, it’s worth checking their Web site again at http://www.kennedy-center.org/nso/, for this concert contains the world premiere of P.D.Q. Bach’s Eine Kleine Kiddiemusik, a piece discovered for conductor Leonard Slatkin’s 60th birthday, and such an interesting discovery that an amazing roster of musicians including Emmanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Sir James Galway, the Labèque sisters, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman insisted on being in the same concert with this P.D.Q. Bach premiere.
As promised, the 2004/2005 Concert Schedule is now available, and an interesting schedule indeed it is. Naturally there are the expected performances of Peter Schickele Meets P.D.Q. Bach and P.D.Q. Bach and Peter Schickele: The Jekyll and Hyde Tour in the expected locations such as Cheyenne, Wyoming and San Luis Obispo, California, but this year also has Peter Schickele presenting lectures about pieces of music that weren’t even written by himself or P.D.Q. Bach. Three of these lectures are part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Afterwork Masterworks” series, a set of come-as-you-are inexpensive concerts that will give audiences a little culture but still get them out of there before 8:00. Mr. Schickele’s informative lectures will introduce the music being played, including Beethoven’s Egmont and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.
Another informative lecture will be presented at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City about J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass. This lecture, “Mass Production: What makes sacred music sacred?”, falls right on J.S. Bach’s 320th birthday, and just a week before another famous Bach’s birthday, P.D.Q.’s 263rd. The latter will be celebrated by a rare concert performance of the minimeister’s full-length opera The Abduction of Figaro by the Oregon Mozart Players. And if Mozart Players are presenting a P.D.Q. Bach opera, that must leave it to Orchestra 2001 to present a Mozart opera, even if Mozart’s Zaide was never completed and has to be finished with a new English libretto by Mark Lord and a new overture by Peter Schickele. All this, and a few other things, can be found on the newly-updated Concert Schedule Page.
The great rise in popularity of DVD’s has resulted in some DVD players now being sold for less than $40 and many VHS videotapes not being sold at all. One example of the latter effect is the DVD of P.D.Q. Bach’s The Abduction of Figaro, though released less than half a year ago, already dwarfing sales of the comparable videotape by the impressive ratio of lots to none. Because of this, The Peter Schickele/P.D.Q. Bach Web Site is following the lead of major retailers who, two years ago, started phasing out videotapes.
For the few remaining people who don’t yet have a DVD player, this may be your last chance to get The Abduction of Figaro on VHS videotape. And what a chance it is, for we will be selling these soon-to-be rare videotapes at 50% off! That’s $20 less than the previous price and half as much as the DVD price. Or to look at it another way, you could by two videocassettes of The Abduction of Figaro for the price of one, and the amount of money you’d save by doing this would be enough to buy a DVD player.
The half-price sale for almost obsolete videocassettes also applies to The Maurice Sendak Library, but even more so, as the discounted price is a measly $7.50, an incredibly low price to pay for a video that contains Peter Schickele’s score for the animated version of Where The Wild Things Are and his narration of both that story and In The Night Kitchen. This amazing but inevitable sale can be seen at Ye Olde Schickele Videos Page, but only while supplies last. After that, the VHS version of The Abduction of Figaro is slated to follow the Betamax and Laserdisc versions into oblivion and used video stores.
Just in time to narrowly miss making sure that we never go a whole year without posting a new crossword puzzle, the latest white-and-black-squared creation of Mr. Schickele has now been made available for the puzzlement and cross words of eager enthusiasts everywhere. This one is titled “Back and Forth, Two Ways”, which should give you a clue as to how tricky it is. In case you still haven’t got a clue, the puzzle comes with a whole slew of clues, which can be solved interactively on the Interactive Crossword Puzzle Page, or the puzzle can be printed out from the Printable Crossword Puzzle Page to be solved with a pencil while relaxing on the beach during the last of these summer months.
And once the summer is over, you can go back to listening to Schickele Mix, whose Fall 2004 schedule has also now just been posted on the Schickele Mix Program Sequences Page. Or, if you don’t want to follow the preceding link to get to the Schickele Mix Program Sequences Page, now there’s another way of finding your way around The Peter Schickele/P.D.Q. Bach Web Site: the new but convenient Site Map Page. This page provides a “one stop shopping” overview of the Web Site, providing links to all of the major pages in one location. Anyone having trouble finding out what concerts are coming up or where to hear Schickele Mix can now look through the Site Map, where the answer to such questions are only a click away. The Site Map even has a link to the new Crossword Puzzle!
Here’s a riddle: what starts out with bands and wind music, then adds some echo and reverb, then goes through some concertos and sound effects, then onto music about animals and music about clothes (or lack of clothes), before starting a 5-program series on marches? That’s right (or wrong, depending on whether or not you read the title of this article before guessing), the Summer 2004 Season of Schickele Mix programs. Complete details have recently been added to the Schickele Mix Program Sequences Page. Check out this list to find out which of these programs you may have missed before, unless you’re living somewhere like Asheville, North Carolina, where the program only recently started being broadcast and you’ve missed all of them and don’t want to ruin the surprise.
When the curmudgeonly Beatle called one of his solo albums All Things Must Pass, he wasn’t just whistlin’ Dixie: they really must. Things, I mean. Pass. And that includes the quite amazing run of late-December P.D.Q. Bach concerts in New York City, a run that started in 1965 and lasted unbroken (well, almost unbroken: there were no concerts in 1969) through 2003. In recent years the annual P.D.Q. fests have been increasingly difficult to sustain; unlike orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, we have had no endowment or large (or any, actually) contributors—what the box office took in was it.
So I’m afraid I have to announce that December 2004 will be P.D.Q. Bachless—or at least Professorless. As you can see elsewhere on this Web site, I will be spreading the musical gospel in a couple of other cities during that month; New York, however, will remain unsullied. I’ll continue to tour around the country with P.D.Q. Bach programs, as in the past, for the first half of 2005 and during the same period in subsequent years.
But 38 years ain’t too shabby, and during that time New Yorkers have become the only music-lovers in the world who have been exposed, in person, to virtually everything by the minimeister of Wein-am-Rhein that has been unearthed. They are a hardy lot, these fearless music-lovers; they have, like the elm trees in Princeton, NJ, stayed standing while all around them those who didn’t have what it takes fell by the wayside. What does the future hold? Listen, the future is a long time, and, to quote Fats Waller, one never knows, do one.
It’s been one long and heady seminar on the oeuvre of one short and heavy composer, whose music, I trust, will not go away, even without the highly annual and educational academic gathering that has been such an unavoidable fixture of the holiday season for lo these many years.
—Prof. Peter Schickele
Actually, I was just joking about the recent policy of announcing concerts only four days in advance (see below)—in fact, we’d prefer to announce all the concerts at the beginning of the season, as we will do in September for the 2004-2005 season and the December 2004 annual New York Concerts—but once again a change in the schedule has resulted in a concert that must be described as “late-breaking news”. Four days from now, Peter Schickele’s Concerto for Piano and Chorus “The Twelve Months” will be performed in Columbia, Maryland on May 1, 2004, by the Columbia Pro Cantare with Justin Kolb as piano soloist—that’s right, piano soloist, not accompanist, for this piece is a concerto for solo piano accompanied by a chorus, not your typical choral work where the chorus has all the fun and the piano just plays some chords to remind them what key they’re in. And if you want to find out why this is the case, Peter Schickele will provide an introductory lecture before the performance.
And for the really die-hard P.D.Q. Bach fans (I’m not joking this time), or for travelers who would enjoy staying at a Victorian castle on a lake in the sky (or a mohonk, as it is called) and wouldn’t mind that their stay included a P.D.Q. Bach concert in addition to the free meals, the first half of P.D.Q. Bach and Peter Schickele: the Jekyll and Hyde Tour will be performed at the Mohonk Mountain House resort on July 19. This first half includes P.D.Q. Bach’s Four Next-to-Last Songs and Shepherd on the Rocks, With a Twist, although the jury’s still out on whether that’s the Jekyll part or the Hyde. So if you’re staying at the Mohonk Mountain House on July 19, you can listen to a live performance of P.D.Q. Bach contrasting the “stunning natural beauty of our mountaintop.” Or to look at it another way, a stay at a fancy resort on the spectacular Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz is included with your very expensive concert tickets. More details on this concert and the May 1 Maryland Concerto performance has been added to the Concert Listings Page.
Although Prof. Schickele’s usual touring season runs from January through May, some concerts do sometimes show up at other times of the year. One example of the latter is a concert coming up on July 10th in Boone, North Carolina. Details on time and place and what Summer Festival it is a part of can be found on the Concert Schedule page. In case listing this concert on this page in April seems to violate our policy (see previous news items below) of announcing events four days before they take place, we’ve also added new details on the concert that is coming up in four days, the Armadillo String Quartet’s 14th Annual Music of Peter Schickele Concert. Although we had mentioned this Los Angeles concert in the past, now we’ve added a complete list of works on the program, some history of the Armadillos and this annual event, reviews (of previous concerts in this annual series, not this one, of course), and, best of all, information on how to reserve tickets (via e-mail), and we’ve added this information, as always, just in time.
In keeping with our recently established policy of announcing events four days before they take place, here’s a timely item about Peter Schickele’s appearance on the radio program 20/20 Hearing, John Clare’s 2-hour radio program which celebrates Contemporary Classical Music. Previous guests have said “20/20 Hearing is one of the one of the most informative and important radio shows on contemporary music in America today” and “his shows dig deep into the chosen topic, but always with humor and liveliness” and several other enthusiastic things which can be found on the show’s own Web site at http://www.classicallyhip.com/about2020.html. Mr. Schickele’s quote about the show has not yet been published, but his appearance on the show can be heard this Sunday, April 4th, at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Classical 87.9 KCNV in Nevada as well as over the Internet at http://www.classical897.org/. In case you miss it this time around, it’ll be rebroadcast in October, 2004. We don’t know the exact date of the October broadcast, but we’ll try to announce it four days beforehand.
Although many alert readers of the concert schedule page have asked when the concerts after May of 2004 will be posted, only one really alert reader has asked when the April 1st concert in Jackson, Mississippi will be posted. And although the 2004-2005 season is still being nailed down and it would be premature to post the schedule before all of the nails really are in the coffin, Peter Schickele and his singers are going to nail that Jackson concert in less than a week from now. Therefore, now is the last chance to give you details of the concert which will take place on what would have been P.D.Q. Bach’s 262nd birthday, if you can follow the logic of this sentence written in three different tenses. Those details are now in the middle of the concert schedule page, and not a moment too soon.
Another page with new information in the middle is the Peter Schickele Scrapbook. Whereas this page had covered the visual and aural arts, it had previously completely overlooked literature. So we have kicked-off the new literature section of the scrapbook with a short story sent in by yet another alert reader. And just to prove that Dave Barry is not the only one with alert readers, now you can read the real-life adventure A Discerning Bug to pass the time while waiting for that new season concert schedule to be posted.
The 18th Century music of P.D.Q. Bach dramatically catches up with the technologies of the 21st Century as his largest musical composition ever discovered is released on DVD, accompanied by a multi-media advertising blitz. That largest composition is The Abduction of Figaro, a Simply Grand Opera in Three Acts, whose premiere performances by The Minnesota Opera—including their Orchestra, Chorus, and Corpse de Ballet—were seen in Minneapolis in 1984, on PBS shortly thereafter, and on videotape (and for a select few laserdisc) since then. Now, for the first time ever, this magnumest of opuses can be seen on DVD, even whilst more technologically advanced and popular entertainments from the 20th Century like the original Star Wars trilogy can only be viewed on clunky old videotapes.
This DVD contains a faithful presentation of the opera (as seen on TV!), with scene selections to allow skipping directly to, for example, “The Dance of the Seven Pails” with just a few clicks of the remote. But that’s not all! Video Artists International traveled far and wide to track down some material that was not seen in Minneapolis in 1984 or on PBS or on videotape and came up with something that was only seen in Vancouver, Canada in 1972. It’s got Prof. Schickele playing Divers Flutes such as the Oscar Meyer Weiner Whistle and Grosse Ocarina in excerpts of P.D.Q. Bach’s “Gross” Concerto and then being interviewed by Gordon Hunt, the host of “Hourglass”, which is some kind of TV program in Canada, I guess. If you’ve only heard a Left-handed Sewer Flute on audio recordings (An Evening With P.D.Q. Bach, for example), now you can see one too.
A DVD release of this magnitude almost demands a full-scale marketing campaign to go with it. To that end, we have finally made good on the promise of nearly a year-and-a-half ago to provide audio clips of P.D.Q. Bach recordings on this Web site. The difficulty all this time has been finding a way to transmit P.D.Q. Bach music across the Internet yet around the rules of the Internet Communications Indecency Act. The solution was found in the august institution of Hearer’s Digest, who create audio samples so carefully selected and edited as to render them mostly harmless. Their Hearer’s Digest Condensed Versions are famous the world around for providing the essence of a recording in a short amount of time and a presentation slightly better than the typical 20-second clip for each track audio samples so often heard on on-line stores. So we are quite pleased to announce the posting on this Web site of The Abduction of Figaro: The Hearer’s Digest Condensed Version, the very first of these audio samples.
We are similarly pleased to announce the very second through very twentieth of these audio samples, one for each of the available P.D.Q. Bach recordings in Ye Olde P.D.Q. Bach Recordings Shoppe. For those of you who have not heard all of the P.D.Q. Bach recordings, these Hearer’s Digest Condensed Versions give you a chance to not only find out what the recordings sound like before buying them, but also to start building up the necessary cultural antibodies before risking hearing the complete recordings. So check out this amazing breakthrough in miniature recording technology for any of the P.D.Q. Bach albums or even for the new DVD, then if you still have some free time, see the list of upcoming Schickele Mix broadcasts, now updated to include the Spring of 2004.
Peter Schickele’s second percussion sonata receives its first recording on a new CD by the Nexus percussion ensemble. Subtitled “Woodstock”, in honor of the town in New York where the piece was first performed by many of these same performers, the Percussion Sonata No. 2 features a variety of percussion instruments ranging from the mallet family (xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, vibraphone and another marimba) to the purely cymbalic (finger cymbals, suspended cymbals, sizzle cymbals, and crotales), along with “beautiful but almost a bit embarrassing” wind chimes. After listening to the tantalizing audio clips now posted on this Web site, it will be very difficult to avoid the temptation to immediately buy a copy of this CD to hear the rest of this 14-minute piece, as well as Russell Hartenberger’s The Invisible Proverb and Bob Becker’s Four Medleys, and to read the rest of the liner notes to find out the context of that cryptic quote about “embarrassing” wind chimes.