Mama says you are misunderstanding my last letter, the one where I am saying this P.D.Q. fellow is back. She says you are thinking I am writing "He is Bach." Well, he is and he isn't.Professor Peter Schickele, the fellow who says he is discovering this P.D.Q., he says he is a Bach, "the last and unquestionably the least" of all those children Johann Sebastian is having. And to clear up any confusion, he is the one who is back, bringing more of P.D.Q.'s music for the Utah Symphony to play.
He also says it is for the last time, that he will not be running in late from the audience anymore, or falling over music stands, or getting in fights with his assistant, William Walters, who is looking a lot like the traffic cop that is pulling him over for speeding a few years ago in the middle of a piano concerto. Me, I figure he will stay retired about as long as Frank Sinatra - don't ask me which time - and continue to do it "his way."
His way is to keep finding new P.D.Q. Bach pieces, then to tell us how horrible they are, then to show us. Saturday, for example, he is doing this with four pieces. I know, there are supposed to be five, but the first one, he is telling us, something called the "Desecration of the House" Overture, this is getting lost in the ventilating system after the musicians are taking a look at it.
To be honest, some of the other pieces sound like maybe they are getting lost too, like the "Hindenburg" Concerto, which he is conducting himself because, he is telling us, Joseph Silverstein is backstage haggling for more money. Actually, Manny, as soon as he is getting up on the podium, the whole orchestra is heading offstage! But he is calling them back and, when he is not scratching himself with the baton, is leading them through what sounds like music for sandpaper blocks and tuba.
The title "Hindenburg," I guess, is supposed to sound like "Brandenburg," but I am thinking it has more to do with the gas balloons I see going up from the orchestra. I am also thinking the "houndentenor," Dietrich Fischer-Bauau, we are seeing in the Canine Cantata "Wachet Arf!" ("Sleeping Dogs Awake!") is looking a lot like Schickele in a dog suit. Which is giving me hope when he is rolling over and playing dead, but in fact he comes back to howl some more and, after the intermission, even play a little on the bassoon.
I am thinking this is going to sound a lot like the bow-wowing, but in fact it is sounding pretty good, even with confetti and something that looks a lot like a condom coming out of the top. (I am thinking this must be left over from the "Safe Sextet.")
Unfortunately nobody's music is safe. Not Mozart, whose "Rondo alla turca" I am hearing in the Bassoon Concerto. Not Ravel, whose "Bolero" is going down with the "Hindenburg." Not even the playground taunt "Nya-nya-nya-nya-nya-nya," which is turning up in the Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments. Least of all Haydn, whose Andante Cantabile from the Op. 3, No. 5, Quartet is interrupted by Schickele's assistant blowing a fuse and all those missing pages from the overture pouring down from the ventilating system!
And I am thinking, Manny: Well, they came back. Maybe he will too.
So how is Mama?