YourClassical Adventures

Can't Stop Laughing

Humor in musicMaria Lupan


YourClassical Adventures: Episode 79 - Humor in Classical Music

5:00

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April 02, 2022

Classical music is often thought of as strict and serious, but throughout history composers each had their own sense of humor that they would let shine through in some of their pieces. Join host Liz Lyon and producer Melanie Renate as they share laughter and comedy through classical music.

Episode 79 playlist


Joseph Haydn: Surprise Symphony — Haydn was known to include musical jokes in his music. In the second movement of his Surprise Symphony, he wrote in loud chords within the soft dynamics of the piece. It brings surprising energy to an otherwise mellow piece.

LISTEN — Joseph Haydn: Surprise Symphony

Joseph Haydn: Surprise Symphony



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Musical Joke — Mozart was known to have a varied sense of humor. He played pranks on people and would often write jokes into his music. Some musicologists argue this piece was either written to parody the work of less-educated musicians or to mock those whom he felt followed the strict concepts of conventional classical music too closely.

LISTEN — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Musical Joke

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Musical Joke



Ludwig van Beethoven: Rage Over a Lost Penny — As the story goes, one night Beethoven’s neighbors overheard him arguing with his housekeeper about a lost (or stolen) gold penny. This piece was composed around that time and became part of the legend of Beethoven’s bad moods.

LISTEN — Ludwig van Beethoven: Rage Over a Lost Penny

Ludwig van Beethoven: Rage Over a Lost Penny



PDQ Bach: My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth — PDQ Bach, otherwise known as Peter Schickele, is educated in musical composition. He took early comedic inspiration from musician Spike Jones, who specialized in spoof arrangements in the 1940s.

LISTEN — PDQ Bach: My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth

PDQ Bach: My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth



Leroy Anderson with Martin Breinschmid: The Typewriter — This piece features a typewriter as a percussion instrument. Only professional drummers can manage the typewriter part in this piece because of how fast the typing speed is.

LISTEN — Leroy Anderson with Martin Breinschmid: The Typewriter

Leroy Anderson Martin Breinschmid: The Typewriter



G. Berthold: Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti — This piece is often performed as a comical encore at the end of a concert performance. The singers repeat the word, “meow,” and might even occasionally hiss during the piece.

LISTEN — G. Berthold: Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti

G. Berthold: Duetto Buffo di Due Gatti



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