Musical Poems


I said to my friend from Asia                                             The was a young man from Tralee

Why do you never sing in C sharp major                         Who always sang in the wrong key,

“Actually, I come from China,                                            And he sang everyday

Where we prefer to sing in E flat Minor.”                          Though he never could say

                                                                                                Why his B flats all sounded like B.

The first of these is a clerihew, the second a limerick.  Epigrams are like clerihews, but are usually about a person, and go something like this:

Jean Sibelius died in tears,

He’d written nothing for forty years.

Some composers, like Bach and Handel, were born in the same year; others died in the same year:

Delius, holst, and Elgar

Were feeling under the weather,

And so they agreed on a plan:

“Let’s all of us go together!”

Mozart wasn’t a great one for epigrams, though he did write  ‘A Musical Joke.’ 

It’s supposed to be an example of ‘how not to write music.’  Which makes one wonder about people who, on contacting a music station on the radio, request  “Anything by Mozart.” 

Perhaps you may be able to appreciate Mozart’s sense of humour – and in any case it’s fun to listen to.  Go to youtube to listen to this.

 ‘An American in Paris,’ with it’s car horns, is also worth listening to.

Other composers like John Cage have used a liquidiser, Sir Malcolm Arnold included a vacuum cleaner in his orchestra, on one occasion; and Luciano Berio included car springs.  Although Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, with its cannon and church bells is probably the best known of these unusual instruments.

Rossini did something similar with the ‘The Cats’ Duet’, also on youtube, making the human voice sound like a cat meowing to music.

Many composers had their tricks.

Schubert wrote some sublime music, though for him music was a social occasion.  At times it turned into a very social occasion, however,  and he wrote for two people, thus enabling a lady and a gentleman to sit close to each other, which was nice.  Except that Schubert decided to go further, and deliberately wrote music which caused the couple to cross hands, so that they became…er… better acquainted. 

 After all, it was a social occasion.

Felix Mendelssohn,

Long before he went to his grave,

Wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In Fingal’s Cave

Wrote A Midsummer Nights’ Dream in Fingals Cave.


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