The New Grove Dictionary of Opera
Edited by Stanley Sadie
Managing Editor Christina Bashford
Volume Four: Roe-Z
entry for Peter Schickele pg. 219
Schickele, Peter ( b Ames,IA. 17 July 1935). American composer and humorist. He studied music at Swarthmore College, then went to the Juilliard School, where he continued his composition studies with Persichetti and Bergsma. In 1959 he studied with Milhaud at the Aspen Music School. He was composer-in-residence to the Los Angeles public schools, then taught at Swarthmore for a year before returning to teach at Juilliard.
In 1959, as a student at the Juilliard School, Schickele co-founded the Composers Circle, which presented concerts of works by members of the group. His serious compositions show a diversity of influences, including jazz, rock and nontonal styles. Childhood interests in theatre, pop and rock songs, and the slapstick burlesque of a style reminiscent of songs by Spike Jones began to find their place in Schickele's output when he invented PDQ Bach, a persona through whom he lampooned Baroque and Classical music and musicology. Pieces by PDQ Bach include orchestral, chamber and vocal parodies as well as three operas; they are full of surprising violations of familiar styles, musical forms and phrase structures, harmonic conventions and orchestration. Schickele has also written music for television and films, and songs for musicals including Oh! Calcutta!
As PDQ Bach
The Stoned Guest ('half-act opera'), New York, Carnegie Hall, Dec 1967
Hansel & Gretel & Ted & Alice (1), Houston or Dallas, March 1972
A Little Nightmare Music (spoof, 1), New York, Carnegie Hall, 27 Dec 1982
The Abduction of Figaro (comic parody, 3 P. Schickele), Minneapolis, Orpheum, 24 April 1984
The Magic Bassoon (1), Denver, Oct 1986
Oedipus Tex (spoof, 1), Minneapolis, 15 March 1988
Prelude to Einstein on the Fritz ('undiscovered opera'), New York, Carnegie Hall, 1989
article by DEANE L. ROOT