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The Definitive Biography of P. D. Q. Bach, (1807-1742)?

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Book Overview

In this long-awaited hoax, possibly the most unimportant piece of scholarship in over two thousand years, Professor Peter Schickele has finally succeeded in ripping the veil of obscurity from the most... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Side-splittingly funny

A hilarious fake biography of the fictional, "last and certainly least" child of Johann Sebastian Bach. P.D.Q. spends most of his young life rebelling against his family's artistic legacy before he finally realizes that having the name Bach means that people will pay him good money for mediocre musical works. And mediocre they are--besides being a drunk and a philanderer, he has no musical talent whatsoever. Which doesn't stop him from creating some of the most inept, bizarre and funny art the world has ever seen. Great stuff, even if you have no knowledge of classical music.


I first read this hilariously absurd book when I was in college. My only regret is that I read it in a public place, so I had to stifle the nearly-uncontrollable fits of laughter it provoked. Only Peter Schickele would solemnly explain that a suite for "divers instruments" was not actually performed with scuba gear, or that the left-handed sewer flute is nearly extinct as an instrument because most of them ended up back underground. Only Schickele would write a classical piece featuring ocarina and plucked strings (ok; so that's not true; Gyorgy Ligeti did it, too--but maybe Ligeti read this book!) In short, this is the best written satire on classical music ever produced. It gives classical music the same treatment as the "Airplane" movies gave Irwin Allen films--one joke after another after another...

A Must

An absolute must for every P.D.Q. Bach fan! It includes an annotated catalogue of P.D.Q.'s music (titled "Such a Horrid Clang") up to its publication in 1976. Every page is full of hilarity. I am constantly getting mine out to read about the pieces I'm listening to, or just to laugh about the hilarious photos and captions in the pictorial essay. Even the index is worth reading beginning to end!

Hilarious (to the right audience)

I must agree with the previous review: This is the best book of its kind, whatever that is (it may be the ONLY book of its kind). If you enjoy music theory or music history, this book will make you laugh harder than Schickele's recordings of PDQ Bach's music. If you aren't fairly knowledgable about classical music (and many of the very dry books which this satirizes), don't buy this book, as much of the humor will be lost on you. If, however, you know that a sonata is not something to be wiped with a handkerchief, this book is full of non-stop laughs.

Certainly the best book of its kind, whatever that is.

From the opening frontispiece (a page of score from a composition whose words consist of "front is") to the closing index (where you can look up the page numbers of both the index and the reference to the index in the table of contents), everything in this book is funny. It traces the life and music of P.D.Q. Bach from Early Infancy (1742-1745) and Late Infancy (1745-1766) through his final creative period, Contrition, to give you a music history education you just won't get anywhere else. Lots of unusual pictures of unpicturable things, odd descriptions of indescribable instruments and strange explanations of inexplicable music. It lacks lots of the more recent research on this subject, but so does every other book, so this remains the best book of its kind, whatever that is.
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