Remembering Peter Schickele, Zany Creator of “P.D.Q. Bach”

Peter Schickele, the American composer and classical music satirist, passed away on January 16, 2024 at his home in Bearsville, New York. He was 88.

Born in Ames, Iowa, Schickele was a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Juilliard School. He studied with Roy Harris and Vincent Persichetti. As a composer, he produced numerous symphonic, choral, and chamber works, as well as music for film and the Broadway stage. Yet, he will be remembered most as a satirist, and as the zany creator of “PDQ Bach, the twenty first of J.S. Bach’s twenty children.”

The quality of Schickele’s parody was a testament to his skill as a composer. Each of P.D.Q Bach’s “newly discovered works” set the bar increasingly lower. For example, listen to the Concerto For Horn And Hardart, S. 27:

Schickele took aim at the music of one of his closest friends, Philip Glass. In the hands of the notorious plagiarist, P.D.Q Bach, Glass’ 1975 opera, Einstein on the Beach, was transformed into Einstein on the Fritz:

The composer was born too late to compose the first two movements of the “Unbegun” Symphony:

Here is the Pervertimento For Bagpipes, Bicycle And Balloons, S. 66:

Schickele reimagined the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as called by baseball announcers:


  • Peter Schickele’s “P.D.Q Bach” discography Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

5 thoughts on “Remembering Peter Schickele, Zany Creator of “P.D.Q. Bach””

  1. January 26, eh? Mr. Judd, you must be a prophet.

    I had the pleasure of an introduction to Peter Schickele via his “Schickele Mix” program on NPR. What a delightful personality! The world is surely poorer without him.

  2. RIP Professor Schickele, classical music’s greatest parodist. I feel so grateful to have discovered PDQ Bach around the same time classical music became my lifelong passion. I’ll never forget the Professor opening the performance of the PDQ Bach tour in Seattle by rope swinging from the first tier balcony and landing on the stage – in concert attire of course. All one needs to do to appreciate his contribution to classical music is read the list of PDQ Bach works on the Wikipedia page.

  3. Maestro Peter gave me some of my heartiest laughs over the years, and I’m heartbroken to learn of his death. Had the rapture of seeing him in “concert” with the Milwaukee Symphony many years ago – a night never to be forgotten. (He performed a piece from PDQ’s “brown bag” period!) A comedic genius. Thanks, Timothy, for the news….

  4. And not to forget the other side of Peter Schickele (erstwhile viola player?), who orchestrated/co-composed the music on the album ‘Baptism’, sung by Joan Baez. Every setting of every text, beautiful and original, and the transitions between songs a work of art in themselves.
    A lesson in song setting and putting together a gorgeous album—with a message as well. Hats off to Professor Schickele.


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