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campus scene

Beyond bare bones musculoskeletal health research
Wit, dedication, and chalk dust
Ron Seyb's teaching
What the faculty are up to
Joyous noise Tang Museum's fifth birthday party
On that note A Peter Schickele residency
Home economics Students buy a house
Rising fast Northwoods Apartments construction
Home-team welcome Hall of Fame inductees
Books Faculty and alumni authors
Sportswrap Thoroughbred highlights


On that note...

“Contrary to what people think, musicians—especially classical ones—do have a sense of humor,” says Peter Schickele, host of the syndicated radio show Schickele Mix. During a six-day campus residency in November, the Grammy-winning musicologist—who “discovered” the fictitious P.D.Q. Bach nearly fifty years ago and has since amused audiences with compositions like The Short-Tempered Clavier and My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth—gave a public talk, coached Skidmore’s choral and orchestral groups, and presented a sold-out concert.

At his standing-room only lecture, “What’s So Funny About Music?” Schickele cracked a few jokes (“What’s the difference between a viola and a violin? A viola burns longer.”) and then played several music clips, demonstrating that a lot of classical pieces really are quite funny, if you listen carefully—for “quotations” (did Tchaikovsky borrow phrases from “Yankee Doodle Dandy”?), “funny sounds” (comedic moments à la Spike Jones, who was an early influence on Schickele), “inappropriate juxtapositions” (a slightly off-key bagpiper soloing with an orchestra), and “exaggerations” (a really bad soprano who misses nearly every high note).

For all his humor, Schickele is a legit and well-regarded composer whose serious works have been performed widely by premier orchestras in this country and abroad. —MTS