Sonata "Abassoonata" (S.888)
for bassoon and piano, sort of
by P.D.Q. Bach (1807-1742)?
Woodenly edited by Professor Peter Schickele
It is announced at the beginning of the piece that the pianist is running late. Throughout the piece, the bassoonist also plays piano, until the end, when the pianist rushes in to play the last 2 bars. A fun piece!
I. Allegro so-so
II. Andante con moped
III. Allegro assaionara
The bassoon is an interesting instrument; it wasn't invented by PDQ Bach, but it sounds as if it had been. The Italian word for it, fagotto, and the German word, Faggot, mean, respectively, "a bundle of sticks" ad "a bundle of sticks". In the original manuscript of this sonata, the piece is dedicated to Hans Holzmann; at first I assumed that he was the bassoonist for whom PDQ Bach wrote the work, but it turns out that Hanz Holzmann was a woodcutter who actually played the first performance of this piece on a bundle of sticks. The sonata is not difficult to play on the bassoon, but it makes extraordinary demands on a bundle of sticks.
The time I programed this piece, I couldn't find a bassoonist to play it- able was one thing, willing was quite another- so I really had no choice: I simply had to learn how to play the instrument myself. It wasn't easy, becoming proficient on the bassoon in three days, but fortunately I had the help of a couple of pretty good books. One of them was "Jane Fonda's Bassoon Book", but by far the more useful was Billy Graham's "So You Want to Play the Bassoon".
In a recent survey, three thousand people from all walks of life were asked, "If you were to be stranded on a desert island with only one object, what object would you choose?" An impressive 63% responded, "Anything but a bassoon." Musicologists, sociologists, and psychologists searching for an explanation for that surprising answer need only listen to PDQ Bach's Sonata "Abassoonata".
Professor Peter Schickele
University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople
March 19, 1996 (during lunch break between ophicleide auditions)