At this point in history, it is hardly necessary to document the legitimate--as opposed to the comic--side of composer Peter Schickele, the alter-ego and progenitor of P.D.Q. Bach.
Schickele has been writing music under his own name since long before he created, in the early 1950s, "the last but least" of the offspring of J.S. Bach and first put that offspring and his oddball scores on the stage in 1965.
Among many other works, the 50-year old American composer has created more than a dozen film scores and the score to "Oh! Calcutta!" plus symphonic works and chamber music.
This week, in a one-man show being presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Society, Inc., Tuesday night in the Embassy Theatre downtown, Schickele does something new. He offers an evening of his own Cabaret Songs, none of which has been heard here before.
"Some of them are brand-new, some of them are 20 years old," the bearded, Swarthmore- and Juilliard-trained Schickele explained, on the phone from Brooklyn.
"I've been writing these songs for years and years. I would give them to my wife, to my kids, send them to friends, almost like postcards.
"A lot of them are funny, of course, but a lot of them are serious." One of them is a five-minute commencement speech he made at his alma mater, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, at a recent graduation.
Another is a song he composed "on the eve of my daughter's ninth birthday," nine years ago. Another is "a song about losing weight. I can't tell you how many friends have asked for the lyrics to that song, to put on their refrigerator doors."
Schickele, who, after two decades of impersonating P.D.Q. Bach, still spends six months a year touring with the music of P.D.Q., says he gives the other half-year to, "Well, I've never liked the term 'serious music'--let's just say I spend the other six months being Peter Schickele."
The longtime New Yorker says doing a one-man show--he accompanies himself on piano--is "not daunting." Indeed, the program Schickele has devised for this occasion ends with a group of Shakespeare-inspired songs the versatile musician has performed successfully for years.
Besides being eclectic, what is the style of these songs? Among other influences, Schickele names the Everly Brothers. But mostly, he says, he would have to put them "in the Paul Simon-John Sebastian tradition."
OPERATICALLY: Long Beach Opera begins its eighth season Saturday night with a new production of Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio." Staged by Christopher Alden, the opera will be conducted by Nicholas McGegan; among the singers will be Karen Huffstodt, Constance Haumann, Michael Myers, David Eisler and Kenneth Cox. Performances are Saturday at 8 p.m., Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. . . . Meanwhile, at USC Opera, music director Natalie Limonick has scheduled four performances of Haydn's "Orlando Paladino" (in English), Friday and Saturday nights at 8, and next Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m., all in the Bing Theatre on the university campus. Frans Boerlage is stage director, Robert Duerr, guest conductor, and sets, costumes and lighting are the handiwork of Marty Merkley, Hedy Holt and Pamela Rank, respectively. . . .
Charles Ross Perlee conducts a concert reading of a new translation, by David Patrick Pabian, of Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel und Gretel," today at 3 p.m. in Altadena Congregational Church, 963 E. Altadena Dr. Among the singers: Cathlyne Talevich, Bonnie Friesen, Carol Berrar Dunn, Marlene Moffett and Christopher Webb. . . . In New York, where Virgil Thomson's third opera, "Lord Byron," has not been seen since its premiere in 1972, "Lord Byron" will be given a "staged concert performance" Saturday night in Alice Tully Hall. This performance will be given by New York Opera Repertory Theatre (NYORT) in Thomson's revised, two-act version, and will be conducted by Leigh Gibbs Gore and staged by Nancy Rhodes, both artistic directors of NYORT.
PEOPLE: Luciano Berio will serve as composer-in-residence at CalArts for the length of the 1986-87 academic year. In addition to his teaching duties--including private instruction to 10 graduate students in composition--the Italian composer will complete at least two works involving student musicians and the electro-acoustic and video facilities at the Valencia conservatory.
Earl Carlyss, currently completing his 20th year as second violinist with the Juilliard String Quartet, will leave that celebrated ensemble on July 1 of next year. He will be replaced by Joel Smirnoff, a member of the Boston Symphony. Carlyss will join the faculty of the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Speaking of Juilliard, the New York conservatory is in the midst of a change of leadership. Gideon Waldrop is stepping down as dean next summer, to be replaced by Bruce MacCombie, an administrator at G. Schirmer music publishers. The Juilliard announcement merely mentions that "Dean Waldrop will retire . . . at the end of June, 1986." Actually, Waldrop will replace John Crosby as president of the rival Manhattan School of Music.