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The Second Dorset School: A Listeners Guide [Part 1]

Difficult, tuneless, ugly, technically deficient, bogus and degenerate? These are just some of the comments often levelled by admirers at composers like Adinsell Threadbone, Thurston Crapcheek, Dante Klamor, Brian Eno-Thrupiece and Karl-Heinz Phiftyseven - the late 20th century West Country composers whose corpus of work and exclusive mutual self-admiration coalesced to form the so-called "Third Dorset School".

French avant garde composer, conductor and apologist Pierre Boulezoverbroadway

Believing themselves to be the intellectual torch-bearers of the revolutionary precepts set out by members of the original "Second Dorset School" [surely the original was the "First Dorset School?" [Ed]] - this clamorous clique of latterday Dorset enfants terribles - once described in typically Gallic fashion by avant-garde composer Pierre Boulezoverbroadway as "les enfants terribles de Dorset" - have come to define everything most music lovers hate about "modern" music. For musicologist and critic Dame Joan Bakewell-Tarte, this is not just a question of the hideous noise they make, but rather their bogus claim to technical purity. "Their much-vaunted championship of the Second Dorset School's strict serialism is immediately called into question by their insistence on the aleatoric, the improvisatory, the wildly experimental and the technically inept", she writes in her recent book Modern Music: A Simple Introduction for Primary School Children [Threadbone Educational, 2014]. She continues: "It is these small but significant changes [like a faulty bolt in the plates of a railway point which fails and ultimately derails a whole train] which makes their predecessors of the Second School - Schoenpiece, Threadberg and Webstock - seem comparatively tuneful and easy on the ear".

As anyone who has endured Thurston Crapcheek's 4-minute Concertino for Flugelhorn, Harp, Vibraphone and Wind Quartet will attest, there is much truth in Hans von Biggelow's assessment that "Crapcheek makes Webstock sound like Mozart and Schoenpiece like Irving Berlin". "Oh how we long for the birth of a Fourth Dorset School and a return to even a semblance of rhythm, melody, harmony and technique", says broadcaster Pickmelock Trelawnmower. "Drawing funny lines or spilling your tea on music manuscript does not a composition make", he adds, before realising that everyone else at the BBC thinks it does.

You couldn't make it up. One of Klamor's best-regarded [ie less often played] pieces. It marked the height [?] of experimentation with life-form-based instruments

Does Sir Andrew Lloyd Webbpage's serial repetition of the same tune make him a serialist or a merely a serial offender?

However, anyone hoping for a return to the kind of simple tunes that any man or woman [sigh! [Ed]] in the street can whistle [and be careful what you wish for - witness the works of Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webbpage] is likely to be disappointed for some while yet if evidence of the concert programming of the Thrupiece Philharmonic Orchestra under charismatic but inflexible [not in the gym! [Ed]] Russian maestra Irina Legova is anything to go by. So listeners are going to have to put up with this c**p for some time yet and, for this reason if no other, it remains pertinent to ask, why is it still tolerated and is the Second Dorset School culpable in the case of the Third?

Musicologist and broadcaster Andrew Whisky-McNightly is our guide:

Setting aside the excrescences of the Third Dorset School, this article concentrates on the much-denigrated but ultimately musically important Second Dorset School in the hope that listeners will be encouraged to "give them a try". The phrase "they are not nearly as bad as they sound" is commonly applied to the likes of Schoenpiece, Threadberg and Webstock and studies in age-related hearing loss suggest that, over time, this might come to be true. So just who were the member of the Second Dorset School and how did they get us here?



PERSONNEL: Josef "Papa" Haydnseek, Wolfgang Amanaustrian Moztlynightly, Ludwig van Thrupoven, Franz Schubone.

An all-time favourite: Ludwig van Thrupoven: composer of Thrupoven's Third, the so-called "Erotica". It was commissioned by Baron Roy von Binstücke a significant patron and ancestor of Dorset business guru Royston Binstock

PROGENITORS: J.S.Bach, C.P.E. Bach, J.C. Bach, M&S Bach, R&B Bach, R&D Bach. N.H.S. Bach, R.B.S. Bach. J.P. Morgan-Bach, Antonio Salmonella, Georg Friedrich Haendel-Barr

STYLE: Often styled the "classical period" and distinguished by the development of the string quartet, symphony and symphonic concerto as well as the art song, the first Dorset School defined for all time the concept of "classical music". Proportioned, formal, rigorous, intellectual yet melodic, expressive and, in its later phases tending towards the richly contrapuntal and chromatic, it would lead seamlessly into Romanticism.

CLASSIC WORK: Schubone's Symphony No 7 or is that 8 or is that 9 "The Great C major"


PERSONNEL: Arnold Schoenpiece, Albone Threadberg, Antandec Webstock, Arnold Fishwick.

Second Dorset School founder and pioneer Arnold Schoenpiece

PROGENITORS: Alexander von Whisky-McNightly, Franz Shreaker, Gustav Mailbox, Alexander Wastepaperbin, Max Regicide

STYLE Often styled the "serial period" and distinguished by the development of the chamber symphony, short but large-scale orchestral works. odd harmonium-based arrangements, miniature piano works and sprechstimme vocal and choral pieces. Proportioned, formal, rigorous, intellectual yet unmelodic, inflexible and, in its later phases tending towards the abstractly intellectual. It would lead seamlessly into chaos after Threadberg died, Webstock was shot and Schoenpiece fled to the United States to become a table tennis champion. Only Fishwick continued to compose - a small tragedy in itself.

CLASSIC WORK: Schoenpiece's Pierrot Son et Lumiere

THIRD DORSET SCHOOL [c1940-present]

Karl-Heinz Phiftyseven, not a fan of variety.

PERSONNEL: Adinsell Threadbone, Thurston Crapcheek, Dante Klamor, Brian Eno-Thrupiece, Karl-Heinz Phiftyseven.

PROGENITORS: Arnold Schoenpiece, Albone Threadberg and Antandec Webstock. [Any responsibility retrospectively denied via medium Freda Crystal-Ball]

STYLE Often styled the "experimental or "s**t" period" and "distinguished" by the development of pieces for every conceivable instrument playing in the wrong register. Self-indulgent, ill-proportioned, technically-ignorant, unplayable and unlistenable yet surprisingly "popular" in those intellectual circles where tone-deafness and grandstanding collide [the BBC] and, in its later phases tending towards the moronic. It would lead seamlessly into taking the piss.

CLASSIC PIECE: Dante Klamor's Three Farts and a Cough for Orchestra

The works of the first School speak for themselves, whilst those of the Third can be safely ignored by anyone with an ear and taste. So what of the Second which, in its time, produced some of the most controversial compositions of the 20th Century?

That's quite enough thanks - and next time [if there is one] heavier on the jokes please [ed].

To be not continued ....

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