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Concert DVD Now Available (posted November 11, 2006)

In what may very well be the biggest news this Web site has ever announced, an actual P.D.Q. Bach orchestra concert has been released on wide screen DVD!  This has never happened before in the more than 40 years that Prof. Schickele has been performing the music of P.D.Q. Bach with symphony orchestras across the United States and sometimes in Europe.  When Prof. Schickele started presenting these concerts in 1965, the wide screen DVD technology was not available, and by 1996 when the first DVD’s were being made, media companies had already been warned what P.D.Q. Bach’s music sounded like.  But by December 2005 Prof. Schickele’s private investigator had finally acquired enough interesting information on people at Acorn Media and Orchestra X, including conductor Peter Jacoby, that cameras were placed in Stude Concert Hall at Rice University in Houston to record what just recently has become the P.D.Q. Bach concert experience that you can experience in your own home.

And what an experience it is, featuring, as it does, an on-stage camera and 5.1 surround sound that puts you right in the middle of the action, and containing, as it also does, many of P.D.Q. Bach’s most popular—if that is the correct term—pieces.  The grand oratorio The Seasonings lets you see and not just hear such unique instruments as the tromboon and the windbreaker, and Iphigenia in Brooklyn shows Prof. Schickele giving a staggering performance on the wine bottle.  The Schleptet and Fuga Meshuga are played on normal instruments but still have to be seen to be believed.  This DVD also provides a new answer to the most frequently asked question sent to this Web site:  “where is that Beethoven Symphony Sportscast recorded?”  Now the answer is:  New Horizons in Music Appreciation is recorded right here on the new DVD P.D.Q. Bach in Houston:  We Have a Problem!

The concert is completed by Prof. Schickele’s own “Unbegun” Symphony and what just may be the very first performance of P.D.Q. Bach’s “Desecration of the House” Overture.  But that’s not all!  The disk also includes several bonus features, such as the “Unbegun” Symphony with an on-screen display of all of the themes Prof. Schickele stole, a television interview with Prof. Schickele on KUHT, and Odden und Enden, a collection sung with his touring singists Michčle Eaton and David Düsing, including three P.D.Q. Bach rounds and a round Prof. Schickele wrote about P.D.Q. Bach’s illustrious father, none of which have ever appeared on CD.  But that’s still not all, so go to the P.D.Q. Bach in Houston:  We Have a Problem! page to get a complete list of music and features and to see a full video promotional trailer, something that has never been seen on this Web site before, and proof of what big news this really is.

 

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2006/2007 Concert Season Finally Announced (posted October 16, 2006)

Peter Schickele’s 2006/2007 concert season contains over 20 concerts spanning the country from Palm Beach Florida in the South to Orono, Maine in the North, and from Eugene, Oregon in the West to Orono, Maine in the East. But right in the middle of it all is Fargo, North Dakota, whose Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra is celebrating their 75th Anniversary with a Gala Celebration featuring the world premiere of Prairie Skies, a piece by the composer who, in his (and the orchestra’s) younger days, was their only bassoonist.

The city on this schedule with the largest number of different concerts is Washington, D.C., where Mr. Schickele will be the host and co-artistic director (along with Leonard Slatkin) of a set of three concerts with The National Symphony examining humour in music. This series sneaks Prof. Schickele and P.D.Q. Bach works into a concert containing light-hearted music from Europe and one about American composers and themes, and boldly puts right in the middle of this series a concert of all-P.D.Q. Bach music.  Another all-P.D.Q. Bach event will be heard in Fredonia, New York, when the Western New York Chamber Orchestra will be presenting P.D.Q. Bach’s The Abduction of Figaro on the composer’s 265th birthday.

Along with these special events, the usual P.D.Q. Bach touring shows continue in full force. P.D.Q. Bach & Peter Schickele:  The Jekyll and Hyde Tour will be presented in many cities, including Edmond, OklahomaBowling Green, Ohio;  and Berrien Springs, Michigan to name a few;  Brevard, North CarolinaPalm Beach, Florida;  and Eugene, Oregon to name the rest of them.  P.D.Q. Bach:  The Vegas Years will show up with fine orchestras in Winter Park, Florida Cedar Falls, Iowa;  and Denver, Colorado;  while P.D.Q. Bach:  40 Years of Musical Mayhem will make its presence known in Charleston, South Carolina.  None of these usual touring shows is going to be seen in Orono, Maine, which instead will have the dubious honor of hosting the first scheduled complete performance of P.D.Q. Bach:  The “What’s Your Sign?” Tour.

But New York City has not been forgotten.  Aside from the previously announced lectures and concert with the New York Philharmonic (including the annual P.D.Q. Bach extravaganza), Mr. Schickele is continuing the tradition of presenting a lecture about a composer at St. Bartholonew's Church during Holy Week in conjunction with a performance of a major musical work, in this case Brahms and his German Requiem.  And certainly the earliest and most quickly approaching appearance is the one where Mr. Schickele will be the narrator in Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra with the New York Youth Symphony.

There’s certainly a wide variety of music in a wide variety of locations this season.  More details on the entire schedule, with actual times and dates and links to places to buy tickets, can be found on the Concert Schedule Page.

 

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More That Was Lost (posted September 24, 2006)

Public Radio International is continuing to dole out more Schickele Mix “Lost Episodes”, those programs that haven’t been included in the regular rotation schedule for over ten years.  The next three of the “Lost Episodes” include two programs with do-it-yourself instructions on how to build chords, and a program about musical variations.  They have been added to the Schickele Mix schedule for the Fall of 2006, so now these “Lost Episodes” can be found on the Schickele Mix program schedule page.

Similarly, now the next of the lost Crosspuzz Wordles can be found on the crossword puzzle page for solving interactively on-line, or on the printable crossword puzzle page for printing out and solving with pencil.  And befitting the historical nature of a puzzle lost since the late 1980’s, it contains some interesting and sometimes musical facts about American history.

And to go with these lost items, here’s a reminder for people who may have lost track of time:  when we posted the original announcement about this season’s annual New York P.D.Q. Bach concerts (see the next item below), tickets were not yet on sale to the general public (except for those members of the general public who were also New York Philharmonic subscribers), but they are now!  If you are a member of the general public who missed the magic date that was the first opportunity to buy tickets, you can read more about the concert on its very own page or go right the the New York Philharmonic’s Web site to order tickets.  As Prof. Schickele has said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained, nor, of course, lost”.

 

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Annual New York P.D.Q. Bach Concert News (posted August 1, 2006)

This season’s annual New York City P.D.Q. Bach concert will be slightly different from what New Yorkers may have come to expect.  For one thing, the concert will be a few days later than usual, putting it squarely on January 2, 2007, instead of the more traditional week between Christmas and New Year’s.  For another thing, Prof. Schickele has somehow managed to coax the city’s own house band, the renowned New York Philharmonic, into playing some of the Minimeister of Wein-am-Rhein’s most impressive orchestral works.  But other things remain the same:  the concert will return to Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall after two years farther uptown, and the quality of the music hasn’t improved one bit.  Prof. Schickele describes the program as a “lollapalooza”, and it contains impressive near-misses such as the 1712 Overture for really big orchestra (the NY Phil certainly qualifies here) and the Pervertimento for bagpipes, bicycle, and balloons, featuring the same bagpiper (Maurice Eisenstadt) who played the work 40 years ago at Philharmonic Hall (as it was then called).

The Philharmonic (as it is still called) also continues another fine tradition this season, the Inside The Music with Peter Schickele lectures that give listeners entertaining background information about a musical composition, with illustrative excepts played by the orchestra itself, before a complete performance of the piece.  The works being discussed on this season’s lectures include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Debussy’s Images and Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1.  All of these lectures have been added to the Concert Schedule Page along with the January 2 P.D.Q. Bach concert, the first time the entire upcoming schedule has featured the same orchestra.  (The remainder of the concerts for January through May 2007 will be announced in September).  Tickets are available from the Philharmonic (http://newyorkphilharmonic.org).  Right now, tickets to the P.D.Q. Bach concert are only available to subscribers, but perhaps subscribing to the three Inside The Music lectures will qualify you to get your P.D.Q. Bach tickets early.  Otherwise, the P.D.Q. Bach tickets go on sale to the general public on August 27th, but remember that the Philharmonic often fills Avery Fisher Hall (as it is now called) with members of the general public who might not even be expecting P.D.Q. Bach music, so get your tickets early.

To go along with this announcement, this Web Site’s New York Concert History Timeline has been expanded to include this season’s concert as well as even more detail on previous New York concerts than when we first posted this feature last year.  Now, if you really search hard enough, you can find out not only which previous year also had an annual concert on a January 2, but also how long it has been since the New York Philharmonic has dared venture into the explored territory of P.D.Q. Bach.  As always, historic promotional posters and radio advertisements can be found too.

 

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New Concerts in June (posted May 1, 2006)

Last month’s premiere performance of the newest P.D.Q. Bach touring show P.D.Q. Bach:  40 Years of Musical Mayhem in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was so well received that brave Philadelphians immediately started looking for a way to bring the show a bit closer to home.  They were not allowed to book the concert too close to City Hall and its famous statue of William Penn because the final note in P.D.Q. Bach’s Perückenstück (Hairpiece) from “The Civilian Barber” would violate the city ordinance prohibiting singing notes that are higher than William Penn’s hat, but they soon found the perfect location in The Mann Center for the Performing Arts.  As the only outdoor cultural arts center in the Philadelphia area, hearty listeners can sit beneath the stars while the jarring sounds of the Polizeipośaune (police trombone) drift harmlessly off into the sky.  The Mann Festival Orchestra will be joined by Prof. Schickele, David Düsing, and Michčle Eaton in performances featuring A Little Nightmare Music (an opera in one irrevocable act) and the toyful Eine Kleine Kiddiemusik on June 23.

Exactly a week later, Prof. Schickele will drag out the end of the 2005-2006 concert season about as far as it can be dragged, with a performance of P.D.Q. Bach & Peter Schickele:  The Jekyll and Hyde Tour in otherwise lovely Monterey, California.  After that, surf’s up, Summer has started, and you’re off the hook P.D.Q. Bach concert-wise until the end of the year.  Both of these late Friday in June concerts have been added to our page of concerts where Peter Schickele will be appearing.

And on our page of concerts where Peter Schickele will not be appearing is another event of interest, where some of Mr. Schickele’s music is being used for a modern dance.  Rebecca Rice Dance performs Deep Horizon, an original choreography to his String Sextet, in Boston, Massachusetts.  This rare opportunity to see Mr. Schickele’s music in a dance (as well as other dances with music by J.S. Bach and a premiere by John Harbision) will take place later this week, on May 6th in Boston’s Tsai Performance Center.

 

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The Lost Lecture (posted April 12, 2006)

To follow the recent announcement about Schickele Mix:  The Lost Episodes and the even more recent announcement about the lost Crosspuzz Wordle (see below), we present this announcement about a lost lecture.  But it turns out that the only place this lecture was lost was this Web site’s Concert Listing page, for people in St. Paul have known about this lecture for a long time.  But just in case there are others who, like this Web site, somehow failed to hear about it until now, here are the details:  the place is the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota;  the time and date are 8:00 and April 14th, 2006, respectively;  the event is the first of Minnesota Public Radio’s The Stage Series of American Humorists; and the lecture will be on the topic What’s So Funny About Music?  In this lecture Mr. Schickele will discuss how humor in music can by affected by cultural relativity and whether humor has a smaller role in music than it does in literature and drama.  He will illustrate the topic with recorded excerpts including Mozart, Debussy, P.D.Q. Bach.  This information has been added to the Concert Listing page just in the nick of time, at least for people who check the page every day.

 

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Crosspuzz Wordle and More Concert News (posted March 28, 2006)

In what may be—okay, is—the shortest elapsed time between posting puzzles on this Web site ever, a puzzle has indeed just been posted on this Web site.  “How were you able to get another puzzle so quickly?” some people might—okay, will—ask.  Well, we just followed the lead of Schickele Mix:  The Lost Episodes (see previous news article immediately below) and dug up something that’s so old most people haven’t ever seen it before.  This particular puzzle is from over 15 years ago, and has never before been posted on this site or even printed in The Peter Schickele Rag.  So chances are pretty good that you’ve never tried solving this Lost Crosspuzz Wordle before.

But something that definitely is new is the detailed information about some Schickele-related events coming up in April, including two concerts that answer the nagging question:  “whatever happened to the performers from last December’s P.D.Q. Bach 40-year Retrogressive concert at Symphony Space?”  Well, as might be expected, the Armadillo String Quartet (who played the String Quartet in F Major “The Moose” in December) returned to Pasadena to prepare for their annual “Music of Peter Schickele” concert.  This year’s event takes place on April 26th and includes a newly expanded Sketchbook, which was called Four Sketches for String Quartet before the number of sketches contradicted the title.

Other performers from the 40-year Retrogressive are still in New York City, but will be going downtown for an April 18th Lyric Chamber Music Society concert, including duo-piano team Margaret Kampmeier and Elizabeth DiFelice (who provided four of the five hands for the Liebeslieder Polkas) and singers Hai-Ting Chinn and Michčle Eaton (two of the five singers in the Madrigals).  And in order to balance out the Armadillo’s return to Pasadena, this New York concert also features Danielle Farina, who was in Pasadena last January, receiving rave reviews for premiering Mr. Schickele’s Concerto for Viola and OrchestraThese fine musicians will be playing some of Mr. Schickele’s own chamber music and some rounds (not P.D.Q. Bach music, despite this concert taking place in Victor Borge Hall).  The major work on the program is the cantata The Lowest Trees Have Tops, with harpist Susan Jolles, who played on the recording of this piece back in 1978, and flautist Susan Palma-Nidel, a stalwart of The New York Pick-up Ensemble.

The Concert Schedule page has been updated with details about both of these concerts, as well as with more detailed information about the April 10th St. Bart’s Church lecture Why Mozart’s “The Man”.  In this case, the new, more detailed information consists of the fact that the lecture is at 7:30 p.m.  Nobody knows exactly what Mr. Schickele has planned for his lecture, but it just may well answer the question:  “what is so great about the Great Mass that makes it so massively great anyway?”  The lecture is part of a two-week series devoted to Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor.  You can get a Mass Pass to attend three lectures on the subject plus a performance of the Mass itself, or just attend Mr. Schickele’s lecture.  See the Concert Schedule page for links to buy tickets or get more information about Why Mozart’s “The Man” or your chance to hear Mountain Music II on either the East or West coast.  (Or attend both the California Armadillo String Quartet concert and the New York Lyric Chamber Music concert and compare the two renditions of Mountain Music II!)


 

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Schickele Mix:  The Lost Episodes (posted March 18, 2006)

For the past three-and-a-half years, this Web site has been announcing the list of upcoming Schickele Mix programs right here on this very page, with links to the program schedule itself.  But in all this time, the list of upcoming Schickele Mix episodes has never included certain classic programs such as “What Happens Between the Notes” and “Ma and Pa Kettle Drum”.  What was it about those programs that prevented anybody from hearing them since 1994?  Well, an incomplete and implausible explanation to this recurring question can now be found on the main Schickele Mix page, along with the amazing news that against all odds, these “Lost Episodes” have been found and are now scheduled to be broadcast starting next month.

For the next year, one Lost Episode that hasn’t been broadcast in 10 years will be integrated into the regular Schickele Mix program rotation every month.  If you are one of those people who has been writing to this Web site to ask why none of the early episodes are included in the rebroadcast schedule, or if you weren’t listening to Schickele Mix ten years ago and never heard these episodes in the first place, or if you are just a loyal listener who always listens to Schickele Mix no matter which episode it is, you won’t want to miss the Lost Episodes.  And if you have been lamenting the fact that your local public radio station stopped broadcasting Schickele Mix when they realized it was just the same 119 programs over and over,  now you can tell them that there are 12 programs that haven’t been broadcast over and over, and a good reason to bring the show back again.  The program schedule page lists the Spring 2006 schedule, including the release dates of the first three Lost Episodes, whereas the main Schickele Mix page tells the story behind these programs and also how to find a public radio station that broadcasts them in your area or over the Web.

 

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Concert News (posted January 8, 2006)

Here’s a special announcement for people who attended the December New York P.D.Q. Bach concerts last month:

For everyone who was able to come to the annual P.D.Q. Bach concerts at Symphony Space at the end of December, we hope those of you sitting in the audience had as much fun as those of us on stage.  It was a rollicking good time. We did make one miscalculation:  although we made more than enough programs for all three performances, the printed matter was so popular this year that some folks who attended the first two evenings took extras home as souvenirs, which unfortunately left us short the third night. We regret that we didn’t anticipate this, and we hope it didn’t spoil your fun.

We’ve decided to make the program files available on this Web site in case you’d like to have your own copy.  If you were one of the unlucky few who didn’t get a program at the concert, now you can make your own copy of the program by printing out the pages and following the instructions for the Do-It-Yourself 2005 December Concert Program Kit.

And those people who did not attend these concerts may be even more interested in other concert-attending opportunities that have been recently scheduled.  Many of these concerts seem to be concentrating on areas of the American Midwest where nobody would ever expect a P.D.Q. Bach concert.  There’s a performance of P.D.Q. Bach and Peter Schickele:  the Jekyll and Hyde Tour in Loveland, Ohio P.D.Q. Bach: The Vegas Years in Birmingham, Michigan;  and the first performance ever of a new touring program, P.D.Q. Bach: 40 Years of Musical Mayhem, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Another new program, P.D.Q. Bach: His Life, Legacy and Leftovers, will be presented on the opening weekend of the 2006 Caramoor Music Festival.  But even sooner than any of those concerts, Mr. Schickele will be presenting a lecture about the history of the string quartet at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on February 17th.  Information about all of these concerts now can be found on the Concert Schedule page.

 


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