Taking the Class out of Classics

The motto of Peter Schickele’s late, lamented music program on public radio, Schickele Mix, was “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that certain je ne sais quoi.” Which just about sums up the protean musicologist, composer and parodist’s snoot-free embrace of music in all its variety, and gives a hint of his impertinent sense of humor. He’s best known for his satirical alter ego, P.D.Q. Bach, “the oddest of J.S. Bach’s 20-odd children,” in whose name he has composed a body of work that hilariously skewers the classical canon—from “The Magic Fruit” to “The Trite Quintet” and “Concerto for Bassoon vs. Orchestra” to “The O.K. Chorale” from Oedipus Tex. Marking a half-century since the first LP featuring “history’s most justifiably neglected composer” was “released on an unsuspecting musical public,” Schickele performs 50 Years of P.D.Q. Bach: A Triumph of Incompetence in the Berkshires this weekend.•

July 26, 8 p.m., Colonial Theatre, 111 South Street, Pittsfield, (413) 997-4444, berkshiretheatregroup.org.

Author: Chris Rohmann

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