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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 © 2018 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

And now...Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

For your listening displeasure, the work of P.D.Q. Bach

From the biographical sketch, by Professor Peter Schickele.

P.D.Q. Bach once said that his illustrious father gave him no training in music whatsoever, and it is one of the few things he said that we can believe without reservation. His rebelliousness was such, in fact, that he avoided music as much as possible until he was well into his thirties (as a teenager he did assist in the construction of the loudest instrument ever created, the pandemonium, but he wisely skipped town before the instrument’s completion, having sensed with uncanny accuracy, that the Pavilion of Glass was perhaps not the most felicitous location for the inaugural concert). But by the mid 1770s he realized that, given his last name, writing music was the easiest thing he could do, and he began composing the works that were to catapult him into obscurity.

This most mini musical life has been divided into three creative periods: the Initial Plunge, the Soused Period, and Contrition. The middle period was by far the longest of the three, and was characterized by a multiplicity of contrapuntal lines and a greater richness of harmony due to almost constant double vision. It was during this period that he emulated (i.e., stole from) the music of Haydn and Mozart, but his pathetic attempts to be au courant were no more successful than his pathetic attempts to be passé had been during the Initial Plunge; having to cope with the problems that accompany immense popularity was something P.D.Q. Bach managed to avoid. It has been said that the only original places in his music are those places where he forgot what he was stealing. And, since his memory was even shorter than his sightedness, he was in point of fact one of the most original composers ever to stumble along the musical pike.

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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.