Happy April Fools! I am pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s award Grove Music Online The fraudulent article contest is David Barber, for an entry on “LOL Bach”.
This year’s judges were:
- Deane RootChief Editor of Grove Music Onlineand music teacher skilled, Director and Fletcher Hodges, Jr. Curator of the Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh. Root has been immersed in the Grove style since working with Stanley Sadie on the first New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
- Walter A. Clark is professor emeritus of musicology at the University of California, Riverside, where he is the founder/director of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music. He is editor-in-chief of Grove Music Online Latin American and Iberian Music Update, a multi-year update and expansion for Grove‘s content in this area.
- Scott Gleson is Acquisitions Editor for Music Reference at Oxford University Press, a position that includes editing for Grove Music Online.
Here is this year’s winning entry by David Barber:
Bach, Ludwig Odense Lammerhirt (b Titz, Germany February 29, 1656; D Feuchtwangen, Germany February 29, 1688)
German-Westphalian Krummhornist and composer. Born in the Westphalian town of Titz in the Upper Rhine region, LOL Bach is a lesser-known ancestor of the famous JS Bach, with whom he shares a double family bond through the Lämmerhirts on Bach’s mother’s side. Researchers are divided on how this double connection came about. Some decided it was better not to pursue the search. LOL Bach studied the krummhorn and various other instruments with a local teacher from Titz, eventually earning a place as third chair krummhornist in the town wind orchestra. He might have had a more promising career on the instrument, but was later kicked out of the band for making rude duck noises with the double reed during a ribbon cutting by the town mayor, who had forbidden Bach to court his daughter. They later eloped (Bach and daughter, that is) to the Bavarian town of Feuchtwangen and had nine children in quick succession – three sets of triplets. Turning his studies to the clavichord sent Bach on a tangent to begin composing for the keyboard. One of the few surviving works from this period is The Fugue from the Kunst (The theft of art), a collection of 11 fugues and preludes (each pair appears in that order, the fugue first, followed by the prelude), each of them in the key of C major. Bach’s keyboard skills being minimal, it was the only key he felt comfortable playing in. His production as a composer would no doubt have been greater if he had not died suddenly at the age of 32 after choking on a krummhorn reed which he had moistened before a performance. of his Sonata in C for Krummhorn and clavichord.
A. Chtung, The Teufel Krummhorn (Wankendorf, 1817)
Judge Clark noted that he “had the biggest LOL Bach laugh, with his ‘gross duck noises’ and Die Fuge der Kunstwith its exclusive accent on C major.
Judge Root wrote that the author “rather intelligently incorporated real though apparently fictitious details: there really is a Bavarian town called ‘Wet Cheeks’ (Feuchtwangen), for example, and JS Bach’s mother’s surname was indeed “Lamb Herder” (Lämmerhirt). The author’s name in the bibliography is a good idea. Instrumental humor has long been a source of mirth for orchestral musicians, and this article serves that tradition well.
For his winning entry, David will receive $100 in OUP books and a one-year subscription to Grove Music Online.
Our first runner up was Robert Stein for his parody, La Sorella della Principessa di Malta, ossia nuovi modi per confondere i critici:
La Sorella della Principessa di Malta, ossia nuovi modi per confondere i critici [‘The Princess of Malta’s sister, or new ways to confuse the critics’]
Opera buffa by Luigi Strudello, libretto by Orazio Boggi; Parma, September 1734 (version in 3 acts), Venice S Moisè, 1735 (version in 4 acts), Modena 1737 (version in 1 act), Modena 1738 (version in 2 acts), Bologna 1755 (version in 5 acts).
The work, as we know from Strudello’s journals, was intended as a humorous pastiche of eighteenth-century operatic plots as well as a gentle satire on the ignorance of music critics of the time.
However, although implausible dramatic artifices and duplicities of characters were intended as the basis of the humor of the opera, the frayed relationship between composer and librettist explains how the confusion multiplied beyond the need for comic effect despite or because of frequent reworkings. This could explain both the misalignment of setting, music, character, costume, sets and text and the ensuing duel between Strudello and Boggi.
After his release from prison in 1753, Strudello revised the opera once more, but the final five-act version – with a revised libretto by Ugo Farfalone – is still largely resistant to the synopsis. Bolognese audiences were so confused that there was no contemporary agreement whether the opera’s final scene depicted the betrothal, coronation, or suicide of the heroine Susana.
Although the opera – in none of its versions – has remained unpublished since 1755, a revival in Utrecht in 1970 in a radically revised version conducted by Bart van der Aart generated some interest in its overture.
Strudello, L. Diari e altre confessioni dal carcere (Roma, 1754)
Burger, H. and Frys, TC ‘Laugh? You kill me. Strudello, Boggi and the warlike barons of the Buffa’ tradition in Critical Perspectives on Italian Opera 1705 – 1765 (Baton Rouge, 1988)
Judge Clark noted: “Another splendid parody was The Sorella della Principessa of Malta. The genius of this one has to do with its actual resemblance to a real item, before it noticeably strayed off the scholarly rails. Susana’s “Engagement, Coronation or Suicide” made me laugh, even as Bart van der Aart’s revival “sparked some interest in its opening”.
For his entry, Robert will receive a one-year subscription to Grove Music Online.
Please join me in congratulating David Barber and Robert Stein and thanking everyone who submitted! We look forward to next year’s competition.