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Donald Macleod's Unbelievable Spoofs

Donald Macleod explores the history of the musical spoof. Who are the spoofs, and who are the unlikely musicians whose lives are so utterly absurd they can only be true?

The world of classical music is a funny old place. Donald Macleod should know - he's been charting its every quirk for over a decade. And along the way, he's discovered that separating the fact from the fiction is not an easy task. In a special live edition for Comic Relief, the two intertwine as Donald plunges into the history of the musical spoof. But who are the spoofs, and who are the unlikely musicians whose lives are so utterly absurd they can only be true?

With the help of silent film accompanist Neil Brand we meet such dubious figures as Bolognese theatre composer Lasagne Verdi, famously submitted (and nearly printed) in the music world's most trusted encyclopedia, served for good measure with an accompaniment of Pietro Gnocchi. There's a chance to hear the music of Pietro Raimondi, the man who composed three oratorios to be performed simultaneously, centuries before Charles Ives conceived of such an adventure. Avant-garde composers reemerge from the BBC archive too, including Hilda Tablet whose 'reinforced concrete music' found its way into the repertory of Covent Garden in the 1950s. Plus a bizarre encounter with the man said to be a reincarnation of Merlin and Francis Bacon, variously described as a courtier, adventurer, charlatan, inventor, alchemist, pianist, violinist and amateur composer. But did he really exist? You'll have to make up your own mind.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 18 Mar 2011 12:00

Music Played

  • P.D.Q. Bach

    telephone request system

    Performer: Professor Peter Schickele (speaker)

    • TELARC CD80210.
  • Pietro Gnocchi

    Taster of his work…

    • Unknown recording.
  • Johann Sebastian Mastropiero

    Cantata Laxaton - Nos 14-15 (final recit and chorus)

    Performer: Les Luthiers

    • ANS RECORDS 19005-2.
  • Neil Brand

    A guide to the Hameln Weserdunklied

    Performer: Neil Brand (piano)

    • Live performance & improvisation.
  • Pietro Raimondi

    Il Giudizio Universale - Chorus 'Il Leone di Giuda si Desta'

    Performer: Chorus from the Rassegna Internazionale di Musica Sacra Virgo Lauretana 2002, Columbus Orchestra of Genova, Arturo Sacchetti (conductor)

  • George Tolhurst

    Ruth - Recit & Chorus: 'And she went and came' (with spoken introduction)

    Performer: soprano soloist, Antony Hopkins (stage introduction and conductor), Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music

    • BBC Archive recording from 6 March 1973.
  • Dag Henrik Esrum-Hellerup

    Tube (on the spot piano reduction of the orchestral version by Neil Brand)

    Performer: Neil Brand (piano)

  • Don Pietro Gnocchi

    Sonata no.3 in G major – Vivace ma non presto

    Performer: Brixia Musicalis

    • CREMONA MVC 005-017.
  • Neil Brand

    Confectionary Concerto

    Performer: Neil Brand (Toblerphone AND piano, AT THE SAME TIME!)

    • Live performance.
  • P.D.Q. Bach

    Minuet Militaire

    Performer: The Greater Hoople Area Off-Season Philharmonic, Prof Peter Schickele (conductor)

    • TELARC CD80210.
  • Piotr Zak

    Mobile (beginning)

    • BBC ARCHIVE CDA26787.
  • Hilda Tablet

    'I have a little mark on my left upper arm' from the opera Emily Butter (realised Max Saun

    Performer: Unknown performers

  • Neil Brand

    Le Comte de St Germain reimagined

    Performer: Neil Brand (piano)

    • Live performance.


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