Concerto for Simply Grand Piano
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P.D.Q. Bach:  Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra

  The piano has been an instrumental part of the P.D.Q. Bach oeuvre right from the very beginning, being featured in everything from smaller solo piano works such as the Three Teeny Preludes and the Traumarei for unaccompanied piano, though chamber music including the  Sonata Innamorata for piano four hands and The “Trite” Quintet, to major extravaganzas such as The Short-Tempered Clavier, Preludes and Fugues in all the major and minor keys except for the really hard ones, and the Concerto for Two Pianos vs. Orchestra

But never before have modern audiences been able to experience P.D.Q. Bach’s Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra. This piano concerto eluded discovery for more than 50 years since Prof. Schickele began his exhaustive research into the music of P.D.Q. Bach only to become the largest new P.D.Q. Bach work discovered this Century.  It brings together a lone piano player and a complete symphony orchestra containing Trombones, Timpani, Temple Blocks, Tambourine, and everything.

Taking on the demanding and daunting piano part is the renowned pianist who also commissioned Prof. Schickele’s discovery of the Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra, Jeffrey Biegel (http://www.jeffreybiegel.com/).  This is his story:

“In the 1970s, I was introduced to the recordings of P.D.Q. Bach in junior high school. I was immediately transfixed by this music and the legendary fictitious son of the greatest composer of them all, J.S. Bach. My recording collection grew as a result, and I joined the throngs of fans attending the concerts. By chance, in the early 1980s, I noticed Peter Schickele admiring the various posters outside Lincoln Center and had to stop and say hello. It was a magical moment for me. Fast forward to winter 2002, when I approached Peter to consider composing a new work for piano and orchestra as P.D.Q. Bach for me. He was too busy, and sadly declined. Following commissioning projects I created with Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Charles Strouse, Lowell Liebermann, Richard Danielpour, William Bolcom and the young master Jake Runestad, I decided to give it one more try in 2015. In his own words, Peter said, ‘If I don't do it now, I never will!’. Hence, I created the P.D.Q. Bach commissioning project. I was not sure how many orchestras and donors would agree to join this mission, but alas, fifteen orchestras and many devout followers of P.D.Q. Bach joined my cause! I never dreamed as a young musician in the 1970s that in 2016, I would bring a new piano concerto to the public composed for me by P.D.Q. Bach! I am honored and delighted to bring this new Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra to audiences in the USA and Europe during the 2016-17-18 seasons!”

 
 
  But piano concertos cannot be commissioned by pianists alone.  In order to bring this piece to light, Jeffrey Biegel had to marshal the forces of more than a dozen orchestras, each of whom will be performing this piece with Mr. Biegel over the course of the next few years.

Colorado Symphony Orchestra (World Premiere)
Jyvaskyla Sinfonia (European Premiere)
Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra
Austin Symphony
Empire State Youth Orchestra
Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra
New Philharmonia (Newton, Massachusetts)
North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra Kentucky
Philharmonia Northwest
Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Oregon)
South Florida Symphony Orchestra
South Shore Symphony Orchestra
Traverse Symphony Orchestra
Youth Orchestras of San Antonio
VocalEssence

The combined effort of all of these fine musical groups was enough to make Prof. Schickele scour the most remote hiding places of musical manuscripts until he could uncover the Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra and prepare it for all of these performances by Jeffrey Biegel. 

 

The Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra got its world premiere with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, who was kind enough to let this website take pictures of the dress rehearsal, as seen below.  Additional performances continue over the next few years.  The first season of these performances, with dates, locations, and links for buying tickets, has now been posted on the Concert Listing page.  Find the location nearest you and don’t miss out on some of the first opportunities to experience this incredible new P.D.Q. Bach piece.  (Note:  Prof. Schickele does not appear in these performances.)

 
 
 
 

Photos by Susan Peterson copyright 2016 Nitso Productions unless otherwise indicated.

 

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