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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Portrait of P.D.Q. Bach Returned to Alleyway

The unloved last son of Johann Sebastian Bach gets dumped again.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Portrait of P.D.Q. Bach restored to its rightful place of honor.
Original image © 1978 Vanguard Records.
A portrait of the German wastrel and composer P.D.Q. Bach has returned from whence it came, to the alley behind a Leipzig eatery two streets up from the Thomaskirsche. No members of the press were present at the ceremony, which was conducted by two Leipzig garbagemen, Franz Schutzenschütz and Dieter Dietermeyer.



The garbagemen, acting on behalf of the Very Important Bach Institute, quietly left the painting where it was found, in the alley behind the well-regarded eatery Das Lederhosen Leberkäsenhaus. The picture had been in storage for sixteen years in the archive at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople until changes in North Dakota education policy resulted in the elimination of the Baroque Studies Department at USND@H. Funding for this department is being used for the David Koch Institute of Hydraulic Fracturing, which began operation on campus this last year.

P.D.Q. Bach was the youngest and least-well-known of Bach's many children, the result of an unfortunate incident following the breakdown of Bach's carriage somewhere between Potsdam and Brandenburg. His music lay forgotten for many years until it became the research and life's work of USND@H's own Professor Peter Schickele, who made a few quick bucks recording and playing the very worst in 18th century music for a gullible concert-going public.

His wide-ranging catalogue includes works like the Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments, the Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycles and Balloons, and most brutally of all,  the Greek-Tejano oratorio Oedipus Tex. A newly forged discovered work, the  Concerto for Very Grand Piano and Orchestra  is scheduled for an upcoming premiere with pianist Jeffrey Biegel.

The portrait, which depicts the youngest Bach holding forth an offering of sheet music while spilling fine German lager on his breeches, was lost for many many years, having been painted over several times. At one point it became a spare canvas by C.M. Coolidge to depict dogs playing poker, and at another it was a prop painting in one of the Police Academy movies. Its many travels are to be the subject of Discord, a forthcoming thriller by American thriller writer Dan Brown, best known for scribbling the original idea of The Da Vinci Code on the back of the Mona Lisa itself during a visit to the Louvre gift shop.

"I cannot tell you how saddened I am that this painting was returned to its native Leipzig", said town Mayor Hermann Deutschenkopf. "It is a black day for Leipzig and for music in general, the day that awful American Schickele discovered the music of P.D.Q. Bach."

According to Superconductor sources acting on deep cover, it is a coincidence that the PDQ Bach painting was returned on the same day that the portrait of his father Johann Sebastian Bach (by Leipzig painter Elias Gottlob Haussman) was restored to its rightful place in St. Nicholas Church. "This is an awful publicity stunt" the Mayor said. "The elder Bach was much more serious and much more talented than his son," Mayor Deutschenkopf said. "Let's try to forget this whole thing. It's probably better that way."


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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.