The classical music world was plunged into discord last night as noted composer Ferdinand Glucklich-Pierre was arrested by riot police in emotional scenes immediately after the controversial first performance of his infamous ‘Symphony for bassoon and naked dwarves’.
The piece is notoriously difficult to stage, involving as it does some thirty naked midgets writhing convincingly over a Renard model 220 bassoon, all fully demonstrating the impressive range of flutter-tonguing and esoteric fingering techniques afforded by this charming instrument.
Glucklich-Pierre’s work has already polarised the popular media. The Daily Mail has praised the composer’s willingness to ‘engage with difficult choices, confront prejudice and have naked dwarfs.’ Only the Guardian has expressed ‘dismay at perceiving the acoustics muffled by oiled, sweating bodies,’ although the correspondent conceded that ‘The naked dwarfs largely made up for this.’
The symphony’s final movement has caused particular controversy. Played strictly according to the composer’s instructions on the score, a circle of bassoonists should all make a fist with their left hand and insert it as a ‘mute’ into the ‘bell’ of the bassoon on their right. While the resultant ‘singing’ timbre cannot be faulted, some commentators have queried what they see as the unnecessarily erotic nature of the phrase. The fact that the score also calls for the piece to be played ‘allegro, with suede lederhosen and margarine’ has also not gone uncriticised by the classical music press.
There has also been concern among child care professionals that the traditional woodwind section may now be ‘gateway’ instruments to harder things, but the multinational bassoon makers are playing down possible dangers. “Our bassoons are clearly marketed to adults only, and we absolutely refute the idea that we are in any way promoting their use among children,” said Ernst Crampon of leading manufacturers Crampon Buffet, speaking at the launch of the new Nintendo “Bassoon Hero” game, which comes with its own 1/3 scale replica plastic bassoon and vibrating naked dwarf, and is already proving unexpectedly popular among the clergy.