Oratorio, "The Seasonings", S ½ tsp.
September 19, 2019 8:44 PM   Subscribe

P.D.Q Bach is the 21st of Johann Sebastian Bach's surviving twenty children, and his surprising oratorio The Seasonings just might be worth ~23m of your time (including warm-up informational lecture). Classical music at its most entertaining!
Chorus, "Tarragon of virtue is full"
Recitative, "And there were in the same country"
Duet, "Bide Thy Thyme" (Soprano And Alto, with slide whistle, windbreaker, and trombone)
Recitative, "Then asked he"
Chorale, "By the leeks of Babylon, There we sat down, yes, we wept"
Recitative, "Then she gave in"
Aria, "Open sesame seeds" (Bass with kazoos, windbreaker, and slide windbreaker)
Recitative, "So saying"
Duet, "Summer in a cumin seed" (Soprano and Alto, with slide whistle and shower hose)
Chorus with Soloists, "To curry favor, favor curry"
posted by hippybear (52 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Context since this FPP lacks it; PDQ Bach is fictional character who is an alias of composer Peter Schickele, who uses the name to publish comedic and parody classical music.
posted by LSK at 8:59 PM on September 19, 2019 [12 favorites]


Fuck I loved this dude as a kid.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:07 PM on September 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


I remember reading an article about him in some music periodical, waiting for my piano lessons as a young kid who was a precocious reader but not quite able to figure out what was real and what wasn't... Led to a few VERY confusing years, let me tell you. (To this day whenever someone mentions a non-JS Bach I have to do a quick "wait, is this the fake one- no, okay, carry on" in my head before proceeding)
posted by btfreek at 9:15 PM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


When I see taragon I'll say "Taragon of virtue is full," but nobody ever gets it.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:16 PM on September 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


Like, I thought the first phrase before the first comma in my post would alert people to SOMETHING....

Joke explainers... *sigh*
posted by hippybear at 9:18 PM on September 19, 2019 [15 favorites]


The local community orchestra played many of his works growing up. I still have fond childhood memories of being awestruck as the conductor pulled out a flyswatter and proceeded to conduct with it.
posted by Candleman at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


This runs through my head pretty much anytime I'm cooking with tarragon or happen to notice the tarragon on the spice rack.

Also I can turn my head slightly to the left and see Peter Schickele playing a salami like a flute on the cover of The Wurst of P.D.Q. Bach (The Seasonings is on disc 2 side 2) because I happened to have it out.
posted by giltay at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'll just link to my comments in hippybear's previous excellent, not-a-double PDQ Bach post.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:33 PM on September 19, 2019


(I, since discovering this at age whatever as a precocious classical music student (piano starting at 6, bass in orchestra at age 11, cannot walk past scallions without "unsavory rapscallion" going through my head. Also, tarragon and curry. This piece will poison your life. Do not consume!)
posted by hippybear at 9:36 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


To this day whenever someone mentions a non-JS Bach

SO MANY OF THEM!!!
posted by hippybear at 9:46 PM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Look, back when 9-year-old me couldn't just pull up the Bach family tree off the internet, how could I have known that, say, C.P.E Bach or J.C.F Bach weren't also satirical fake Bach children?!
posted by btfreek at 9:58 PM on September 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


Iphigenia in Brooklyn
posted by matildaben at 10:01 PM on September 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


I sat for a half hour and pondered between that and that.

Next time, perhaps. Running nose
posted by hippybear at 10:02 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was so lucky to see Schickele perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, all of whom barely managed not to crack up during "Portrait of PDQ Bach," but those who were not performing during the "Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments" were weeping with laughter at it.

Man's a genius.
posted by tzikeh at 11:14 PM on September 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Iphigenia in Brooklyn

"Oh ye gods, who knows what it is to be running?
 Only he who is running knows."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:26 PM on September 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


Part of the soundtrack of my childhood.

Other parts of that soundtrack include Dudley's fabulously interminable piano sonata, the incomparable Anna Russell and various other lovely things that have yet to show up on YouTube, though I'm sure they eventually must.
posted by flabdablet at 12:57 AM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


How is it possible I've never heard of this until now? I'm going to have to have a word with my friends. Thanks!
posted by eotvos at 1:47 AM on September 20, 2019


OMG flabdablet, when I took the Mr to see his first Ring Cycle, I introduced it to him first by playing Anna Russell. We still crack each other up by saying in a British accent, “and she’s his AUNT!” (Both artists were introduced to me in childhood by classical-music-loving parents.)
posted by matildaben at 3:51 AM on September 20, 2019


Can we have a Flanders and Swann post, somebody, please?
posted by matildaben at 3:52 AM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


Like, I thought the first phrase before the first comma in my post would alert people to SOMETHING....

Hi, I'm someone who was super confused by your joke because yeah OK Bach shouldn't have living children but then I'm like "maybe they mean some of his children didn't survive childbirth and it's for some reason important to note that relative to this one and this is something one of his kids did hundreds of years ago??" and I'm glad there was a joke explainer here to add the context you left out.
posted by tocts at 4:44 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I actually saw Schickele doing this stuff in concert once, way back in the day. I don't recall the year exactly, but there was a joke about how pleased he was to hear that Sylvester Stallone was making a movie about the life of French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.

So I guess it could actually have been, hell, last month. That's no help.
posted by Naberius at 5:11 AM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


> ...because yeah OK Bach shouldn't have living children but then I'm like...

I had thought being the 21st of 20 was the joke. "Surviving" refers to the Bach children that didn't die in childbirth or infancy, not the number that lived four hundred years.
posted by ardgedee at 5:48 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I can't listen now, but just reading (both this and the linked non-previously thread) is bringing back the memory of these pieces and putting big smiles on my face.

Thanks everybody - can't wait to actually listen after work!
posted by jaruwaan at 6:12 AM on September 20, 2019


Obscure fact: Peter Schickele and Joan Baez collaborated on her 1967 album Joan; he arranged and conducted most of the 12 tracks.
posted by key_of_z at 6:42 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also on Noel (1966) and Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time (1968), further research reveals.
posted by key_of_z at 6:49 AM on September 20, 2019


Obscure fact: Peter Schickele attended Julliard with Philip Glass and Steve Reich.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:06 AM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Saw him years ago. We had balcony seats. Before the concert started someone came out and announced that he was running late and there would be a delay - when from the back of the balcony he ran up yelling I'm here I'm here - threw a rope ladder over the edge of the balcony and shimmied down - shirt untucked and hanging below his tux, programs raining down along side.... it got sillier from then on - have rarely laughed so hard!
posted by leslies at 7:41 AM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


A prolific inventor, as well. From Wikipedia:

Schickele also invented the "dill piccolo" for playing sour notes, the "left-handed sewer flute", the "tromboon" ("a cross between a trombone and a bassoon, having all the disadvantages of both"), the "lasso d'amore", the double-reed slide music stand, which he described as having "a range of major third and even less expressiveness," the "tuba mirum", a flexible tube filled with wine, and the "pastaphone", an uncooked tube of manicotti pasta played as a horn. Further invented instruments of his include the "pumpflute" (an instrument that requires two people to play: one to pump, and one to flute) and the "proctophone" (a latex glove attached to a mouthpiece, and "the less said about it, the better"). The überklavier or super piano, with a 15 octave keyboard ranging from sounds which only dogs can hear down to sounds which only whales can make, was invented in 1797 by Klarck Känt (pronounced "Clark Kent"), a Munich piano-maker who demonstrated the instrument for P.D.Q. A sample of a piece written for the überklavier, The Trance and Dental Etudes appeared in P.D.Q.'s unauthorized autobiography, published in 1976.[10]:153 P.D.Q's Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle and Balloons (1965) demonstrated the inherent musical qualities of everyday objects in ways not equally agreeable to all who listen to them.[10]:177
posted by cowcowgrasstree at 7:51 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Like, I thought the first phrase before the first comma in my post would alert people to SOMETHING....

Spoiler Alert: Beware the Metasplainers.

Baez's Joan -- oh, the sung version of Poe's Annabel Lee! -- and Noel, her Christmas album, were wonderful records but the mostly spoken word Baptism was not my favorite thing
posted by y2karl at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2019


My former spouse was a ringer in a local community orchestra (paid musician to boost the quality) that performed this piece. The handout given to the audience when they came in and the conductor played this straight, no jokes, no hints, just another classical piece to be played written by another Bach. In an audience of about eighty there was maybe three who know what it really was. It was really hilarious to watch the audience react when the shower hose in D appeared, the bass soloist started singing way below his range, and more musical chaos rang out. And the lyrics! By the time it was over the audience was now rolling on the floor finally getting it. Hearing P.D.Q. Bach with a naive audience is the way to go.
posted by njohnson23 at 8:01 AM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Can we have a Flanders and Swann post, somebody, please?

Here's a copy of an album I nearly wore out as a kid: the original mono release of At the drop of a Hat, recorded at the Fortune Theatre in 1957.

YouTube has plenty more.
posted by flabdablet at 8:10 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yay! Do Tom Lehrer next.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:25 AM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
posted by flabdablet at 8:29 AM on September 20, 2019


Peter Schickele attended Julliard with Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

Wow, Schickele could not have gone in a more opposite direction from the other two!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:45 AM on September 20, 2019


Their approach to humour in music is certainly drier.
posted by flabdablet at 8:56 AM on September 20, 2019


I met him several times when I worked at the hotel he stayed at in town... unfailingly kind gentleman.

I've even glanced over the Rimbaud wikipedia article and still don't get the Stallone reference.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:48 AM on September 20, 2019


I've even glanced over the Rimbaud wikipedia article and still don't get the Stallone reference.

The name "Rimbaud" is pronounced "RAM-boh."
posted by dnash at 10:04 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


My grandmother took me to see Peter Schickele in the late 60's. She didn't take Gramp with us because "he wouldn't see the humor." He took classical music very seriously. I still picture him in his easy chair, blasting Wagner from his wooden console. The show was hilarious, of course.
posted by kozad at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2019


Schickele is also a professor at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. (people think this is funny because of the whole Southern/North thing. Uh-uh. For us in North Dakota it's that Schickele placed it in Hoople!)
posted by Ber at 1:11 PM on September 20, 2019


I would love a composer who could arrange popular pieces in the style of other composers. Like, Shostakovich’s take on The Star-Spangled Banner or Happy Birthday in the style of Philip Glass.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 1:19 PM on September 20, 2019


Happy Birthday in the style of Philip Glass.

happyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappyheppyheppyhappyhappyhappyhappyhappy.....
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:08 PM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


Shostakovich himself did a version of Tea for Two, called Tahiti Trot
posted by JonJacky at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


the duck by the oboe: that's exactly what Bruce Adolphe does for the Performance Today Piano Puzzler!
posted by golwengaud at 2:49 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Those are great but I want full orchestral arrangements. I’m not asking for much!
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:53 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Peter Schickele attended Julliard with Philip Glass and Steve Reich.
I've mentioned this before in a thread about composer Robert Dennis (previously, previously), but in 1969, Dennis, Schickele, and Stanley Walden released an album as The Open Window -- and it's one of my favorite things in the world. Odd, eclectic, beautiful in places, often funny (in a hippie-whimsy way, not in a wacky PDQ Bach way). Here's the album on YouTube; it's also on Spotify.

Schickele's piece "4 AM, JUNE; THE SKY WAS GREEN" is just lovely -- and to me sounds remarkably like what Brian Eno would end up doing a few years later.

So that's a direction he might have gone had he not uncovered the work of the Least Bach.
posted by neroli at 4:21 PM on September 20, 2019


He's gone in many directions, including Oh! Calcutta. Me, I'm partial to his take on Beaumont's Knight of the Burning Pestle.

And I still mourn the current unavailability of Schickele Mix. Copyright, you see.
posted by BWA at 7:56 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I wonder who will be playing in the World Twelve-tone Series this year?
posted by mogget at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


Dunno, but I bet the penalty box gets a workout.
posted by flabdablet at 3:13 AM on September 22, 2019


Itzhak Perlman and Peter Schickele - Konzertshtick for Two Violins mit Orchestra part 1, part 2
posted by flabdablet at 3:30 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


AND THEY'RE OFF with a four-note theme.

(Saw this done live in college, with the utterly bewildered football coach doing commentary with Schickele. It was pretty great.)
posted by humbug at 5:55 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


I would love a composer who could arrange popular pieces in the style of other composers.

I present you Victor Borge performing "Happy Birthday" in the style of various composers.
posted by dnash at 9:13 AM on September 23, 2019


Bill Bailey adapts TV theme tunes and reveals the hidden secrets of bassoons.
posted by flabdablet at 10:41 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


« Older This is what it sounds like   |   World's first vagina museum opening in November Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments