Peter Schickele, noted composer, musician, author, and satirist, was born on July 17, 1935, in Ames, Iowa, and brought up in Washington, D.C. and Fargo, North Dakota. He studied 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 become the freelance composer/performer he has been ever since. In the course of his career Schickele has also created music for four feature films, among them the prize-winning Silent Running, as well as for documentaries, television commercials, several Sesame Street segments and an underground movie that he has never seen in its finished state. He was also one of the composer/lyricists for Oh! Calcutta!, and has arranged for Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie and other folk singers.
Peter Schickele is most noted for his portrayal of P.D.Q. Bach, Johann Sebastian’s last and least (and fictional) offspring. P.D.Q. Bach once said that his illustrious father gave him no training in music whatsoever, and it is one of the few things he said that we can believe without reservation. His rebelliousness was such, in fact, that he avoided music as much as possible until he was well into his thirties (as a teenager he did assist in the construction of the loudest instrument ever created, the pandemonium, but he wisely skipped town before the instrument’s completion, having sensed with uncanny accuracy, that the Pavilion of Glass was perhaps not the most felicitous location for the inaugural concert). But by the mid 1770s he realized that, given his last name, writing music was the easiest thing he could do, and he began composing the works that were to catapult him into obscurity.