Campus News

Bowdoin to Welcome Peter Schickele for Spring Santagata Lecture

Story posted March 15, 1997


BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Peter Schickele, host of public radio's "Schickele Mix," will deliver a lecture titled "A Musician's Life" and will perform on the piano at Bowdoin College on Thursday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall.

The event is open to the public free of charge, but due to limited seating, tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained at the Smith Union Information Desk. Schickele's performance at Bowdoin is sponsored by the Kenneth V. Santagata Memorial Fund.

Composer, musician, author, satirist - Schickele has done it all for the last 30 years to the delight of fans around the globe. For 26 years, Schickele was on the road as the now classic P.D.Q. Bach, one of the supposed 20-odd children of classical composer J.S. Bach. His P.D.Q. Bach creation consisted of spin-offs of famous pieces of music which he would perform on stage with a selection of invented instruments such as the "windbreaker" and the "tromboon."

Schickele's "The Abduction of Figaro," a full length satirical opera, sold out 28 consecutive times in Stockholm, Sweden. Other popular works include "Oedipus Tex and Other Choral Calamities," "Music for an Awful Lot of Winds and Percussion" and "The Short-Tempered Clavier and other Dysfunctional Works for Keyboard." Schickele earned four consecutive Grammy Awards (1990-93). After retiring the P.D.Q. Bach role, he moved to more serious endeavors demonstrating that in addition to his sense of humor, he is capable of creating great music.

Schickele's commissions are numerous and varied. He has composed works for the National Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Audubon and Lark String Quartets, the Minnesota Orchestral Association, and many other such organizations as well as for distinguished instrumentalists and singers. He has also created music for four feature films, among them the prize- winning "Silent Running," as well as for documentaries, television commercials, and several "Sesame Street" segments. Schickele was also one of the composer/lyricists for "Oh, Calcutta" and has arranged for Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie and other folk singers. The syndicated radio program "Schickele Mix," which airs weekly on Public Radio International, has been one of Schickele's projects since 1992.

Schickele graduated from Swarthmore College in 1957, having had the distinction of being the only music major in his class. By that time he had already composed and conducted four orchestral works and a great deal of chamber music. He then went on to study composition with Roy Harris and Darius Milhaud and at the Juilliard School of Music with Vincent Persichetti and William Bergsma. Then, under a Ford Foundation grant, he composed music for high schools in Los Angeles before returning to teach at Juilliard in 1961.

In 1965 he gave up teaching to take up freelance composing and performing and has continued ever since. P.D.Q. Bach was created in the summer of 1953 when Schickele was home after his first year at Swarthmore College producing mock radio broadcasts with some friends.

The Kenneth V. Santagata Lecture Memorial Lecture Fund was established in 1982 by family and friends of Kenneth V. Santagata, a member of the class of 1973. The fund is used to provide at least one lecture each term, rotating in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, with lecturers who are recognized authorities in their respective fields who represent new, novel, or nonconventional approaches to the designated topic in the specified category.

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