It was in the late 1980s when I organized a seminar “Humor in wind music”. None other than Henk van Lijnschooten was a seminar leader. And one thing he quickly made clear to us: humour in music is not fun, but hard work. Not only the presented music has to be perfectly rehearsed, also acting skills are (often) in demand. Humour, unprofessionally presented, can quickly slide into slapstick.
Now one has to distinguish between a purely compositional and humorous work, such as “Scherzpolka” by Thomas Doss or “Rossini’s Birthday Party” by Henk van Lijnschooten. Who doesn’t remember the orchestra Spike Jones, which always provided laughter and musical gags in his works. Or do you perhaps know the tragic comedy of the ambitious trumpeter, whose overzealousness led him from trumpet to cuckoo whistle?
On the other hand, there are works where musical as well as acting achievements are in demand. For example the long-proven piece “Der Musikerstreik” (The Musicians Strike) by Hans Kliment, a humorous scene in which the musicians leave the Kapellmeister (well suited to slide into the concert break). Or here a new piece of the Austrian Michael Auer “Bohemian Nightmare“. This is a polka (or not?) which can become a nightmare for the musicians and the conductor. The difficulties are, besides the technical challenges, the different time changes, the different tempos, sudden general pauses, 6/8 or 2/4 bars at the same time and much more. All this should be presented in a very playful and easy way so that the impression of a “normal” Bohemian polka is always preserved. More detailed information can be found (above) in the given link.
In our database we have our own subcategory “Humorous Works“. There you may be able to get to know new humorous works. But we are also curious about pieces we don’t know. That’s why we ask for your cooperation: tell us about works that fit this theme.
I can still remember this seminar mentioned above, in which Henk van Lijnschooten played us some works at the end of the seminar. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the title: it was a trumpet concerto at which nothing happened for the time being, until it came to a top note that the trumpeter didn’t hit. In the course of the concert this “top note” was the “running gag”, because the soloist never caught this note. Towards the end the mistakes became more and more, until the whole orchestra broke apart. That was a high skill of the whole orchestra, because to portray this “false play” so convincingly is not an easy thing.
So, if you have a sense of humor, write to us.