Classical music and comedy? Sure. Comic operas abound, like those by Rossini and Mozart. In terms of purely instrumental music, you’ve got Mozart’s A Musical Joke and the surprises in Haydn’s Symphony No. 94.
Variations of whatever sort are bound to provoke a smile because of the cleverness of the composer, leading us down paths that we never expected to go down.
How about Victor Borge, the Danish clown prince of the piano bench? Check out his duet of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2:
Spike Jones? Anna Russell? Musical comic geniuses of the recent past. Today there’s Bruce Adolphe, who creates the piano puzzler each week on public radio’s Performance Today. He’s a first-rate musician with a puckish sense of humor, evident in the brilliant way he treats a familiar tune in the style of a famous composer. Our job? To guess both.
And the reason I bring up humor in the first place is because of Nick Canellakis and Michael Brown, two-thirds of the trio playing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto on the Albany Symphony 's February 18 concert. You need to check out YouTube for three amusing interviews Canellakis and Brown do with three stars of the classical music world: Emmanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, and Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Funny or silly or clever---what you will. I like these interviews! And if you do, too, there are many others.
Paul Lamar, Program Annotator for the Albany Symphony