Classic(al) Comedy

April Fools isn’t just for the pranksters. Yes, even composers take the occasional jab!
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart makes fun of bad composition in his multi-movement piece, A Musical Joke. Among the comedic gaffes includes starting the slow movement in the wrong key, discords in the horns, and intentional clumsy orchestration. Joseph Haydn applies humor in his String Quartet No. 30. Once you think the music ends, it starts up again; then goes to silence, more music, then silence again. Think of it as tickling – but for the ears!

John Aldrich’s The Art of the Bawdy Song brings together whimsical tunes of previous centuries. Its 2011 release was also the first classical album released with a parental warning. With pieces Henry Purcell and written by the likes of Henry Purcell, the tunes conjure up images of Renaissance festival and courtly love. Charming as they are, these tunes were crude, with many tunes praising drunken adventures. They were often performed in taverns, though they could occasionally be heard among the aristocracy. Some may have even found its way to the royal court. Henry Purcell’s career was closely linked to the English royal court of the late-1600s. One could only imagine Charles II – also know as The Merry Monarch – enjoying Purcell’s I gave her cakes and I gave her ale.

Click below to listen to a playlist of tunes, available on Spotify, to please your funny bone:

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