Concerto for Horn and Hardart, S. 27

P.D.Q. Bach

Edited by Prof. Peter Schickele
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Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The influence of classical music upon the modern commercial world is far from far-reaching, which makes even more remarkable the fact that a chain of automat restaurants should be named after a concerto by an eighteenth-century German composer whose best-known quality is his obscurity. It seems safe to say that most of the people who frequent the Horn & Hardart restaurants in New York and other cities do not realize that they are indirectly paying homage to a long- and deservedly-dead composer; such are the ironies of art.

The hardart is one of the most bizarre instruments for which P.D.Q. Bach wrote. Its origins are unclear, but the reasons for its demise are painfully evident to anyone who has heard this concerto; in fact, there is not a single eighteenth-century hardart in existence today (the one played by this author in his performances of the concerto was reconstructed from eighteenth-century descriptions of the instrument by craftsmen at the Obsolete Instruments Department of the U. of S.N.D. at H.). It has a range of over two almost chromatic octaves, with each successive tone possessing a different quality or timbre. The sound-producing devices include a plucked string, bottles which are blown and struck, a bicycle horn, various whistles, and a cooking timer. Windows in the center section, which can be opened after inserting the necessary coins in the slots, contain the different mallets required to play the percussion components, as well as sandwiches and pieces of pie, which are particularly welcome during long concerts. A spigot on the front serves coffee; above it is painted the inscription MINOR LABOR MATRIS (Less Work for Mother). The balloons which are burst at the end of the concerto with an ice pick and a shotgun add a festive touch. Due to its unusual length (over nine feet) and the great variety of motions necessary to produce its tones, the hardart requires of its player a considerable amount of athletic as well as musical ability.

The first movement (Cheefully with brillo) is one of your typical sonata-form movements, with the truncated recapitulation one has come to expect from history?s laziest composer. Formally speaking, the second movement (Theme with variations) is unusual in that the variations are not variations of that theme; they seem to be variations of some other theme. Having been employed almost exclusively as a single-line instrument up until now, the hardart finally gets a chance to display its chordal abilities in the last movement (Minuet with cream and sugar).

The catalogue number of the concerto may, at first glance, seem to be arbitrary; upon reflection, however, it will become obvious that it is the product of multiplying the square root of the sum of the number of sound-producing devices on the hardart and the number of letters in the composer?s name by the number of movements in the piece.

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Additional Information

Duration 00:11:00
Editor Schickele, Prof. Peter
Orchestration Hn. Hardart, Fl. Ob. Bsn. Str.

Details

Allegro con brillo
Tema con variazione
Menuetto con panna e zucchero