Professor Peter Schickele, head of the Department of Musical Pathology at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, died yesterday, at the age of 88.
in 1977, or thereabouts (it was prior to my 18th birthday) the northwest chamber ensemble, or some group like it, gave a concert of music by P.D.Q. Bach, who was the composer whose music was the particular area of study of Professor Peter Schickele. they gave a party at some fancy bar/restaurant on the waterfront in downtown seattle, along with a scheduled “P.D.Q. Bach Compose-A-Like” contest, and Professor Peter Schickele was the guest of honour, and the judge of the aforementioned contest. i had been a fan of professor peter schickele for many years, i owned all of his albums (i think there were 4, at the time), and his book, along with the scores for many of P.D.Q.’s musical works, such as The Art of The Ground Round, and The Seasonings, and i was an AVID composer of… some might say “bizarre” music… however, at age 17, i was simply too young to get into a 21-and-older bar. however, i had a plan: a friend of my father’s was a member of the northwest chamber ensemble, and he got me into the bar with no questions about my age, where i entered a composition of my own, for left-handed sewer-flute and electronic tape. i actually made a left-handed sewer-flute, which had a faucet at the bottom, and part of the performance was opening the faucet, whereupon water would drain out of the extraneous tubing behind the head-joint cork. the performance went about as AWFULLY as any performance i have ever done, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, with the exception of the water draining out of the faucet, which couldn’t have gone wrong because there was, literally, no place else for it to go, i actually only played about 4 notes on the “flute” part, the tape playback machine refused to work, and then it only worked intermittently… and yet, somehow, i won first prize in the contest. and the first prize was two tickets to the concert. the guy that won second prize had actually composed a legitimate, classical-style string quartet, in three movements. the second prize was a “genuine” P.D.Q. Bach “water-powered turntable”, which was a lawn sprinkler with a record platten attached to it with zip-ties. i got professor peter schickele’s autograph on several of the scores that are still in my possession.
he will definitely be missed. 😢