Tuesday, April 1

The comedic Mozart...An April Fool's Day look at some of the ways that humor has been used in Classical music over the years, by both composers and performers. Some might imagine the world of the great masters to be too serious to 'let their hair down,' but there's plenty of that going on in the concert hall.



The composer who probably has the greatest reputation for having a sense of humor is Haydn - who played games with the expectations of an educated audience in such works as his "Joke" quartet, which doesn't seem to know just when it's ending, And there was the "Farewell" Symphony, in which, to prove a point about the musicians of the orchestra being rather overworked, ends with a slow reduction in the number of players down to just two violins - originally played by Haydn and the concertmaster at the Esterhazy Court. And if that's too subtle, there's the jarring "Surprise" of his Symphony No. 94's second movement.

Mozart's "A Musical Joke" pokes fun at some of the habits of lazy composers, and horn players who, although well-meaning, have perhaps put the wrong crook, or length of tubing into their instruments, putting them in the wrong key. (You can hear that in the recording below at 5:07 and elsewhere!)

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