Your favourite 'spoof' compositions?

Seeing the answer to a question earlier reminded me of 'Caccini's' now quite famous 'Ave Maria'. Those 'in the know' will probably be aware that this piece is not by Caccini at all (how 16th century does it sound to your ears?), but by 20th-century Russian composer Vladimir Vavilov (1925-73). As well as 'rediscovering' Caccini's 'Ave Maria', Vavilov perpetrated a number of other musical hoaxes, mostly famous the 'Canzona' by Francesco da Milano (another 16th-century composer who had nothing to do with the piece attributed to him) which later became very successful with added words as the song 'The City of Gold'.

The fake 'Albinoni' Adagio aside (written in the 1950s by Remo Giazzotto), what other musical 'spoofs' are you are of?


Apologies for my 'in haste' typos. Of course, the last sentence should read:

"What other musical spoofs are you aware of?"

Update 2:


I see what you mean about Stravinsky's 'Fireworks'. I wonder if Stravinsky had heard Dukas's piece in 1909 Russia? Have you noticed how 'Uranus' from Holst's 'Planets' also resembles the Dukas (although it's pretty clear that this is purely coincidental)?

Not quite what I meant by the question, however - I'm looking for pieces that are not by the person usually attributed to have written them but actually written by someone else.

Update 3:


A nice example, but this isn't about accidentally misattributed pieces from music history - rather hoax pieces 'passed-off' as the work of someone else by an intentional act of deception.

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    There's also the b minor viola concerto, supposedly written by Handel, but apparently written by Henri Casadesus.

    Casadesus claimed to have copied the concerto from a manuscript at the Royal Museum of London.

    Someone polled the employees there, and no one knew of such a manuscript.

    Nor is there any mention of a viola concerto anywhere in Handel's correspondence.

    Besides, the slow movement is awfully schmaltzy for the Baroque Era.

    I understand that both Henri Casadesus and his brother made quite a profession of forging Eighteenth Century concertos.

    His brother published a violin concerto supposedly by Mozart, but which in my opinion, doesn't sound anything at all like Mozart.

    Speaking of Mozart, do you know the story behind the Paderewski minuet?

    He originally wrote it as a Mozart forgery.

    He had a friend who claimed to be such a connoisseur of Mozart that he could distinguish between Mozart's style and that of any other composer.

    So Paderewski decided to run a test|:

    He wrote the minuet, played it for his friend, told him it was by Mozart, and sure enough, he fooled him!

  • 1 decade ago

    When my husband and I go to the movies, we like to play "spot the Carmina". There have been countless lifts from this work, or other rafter-shakers of classical literature. We also have a stock answer when some idiot asks us what the movie them is based on - "Bartok Concerto for Orchestra". When it actually is ON the radio - we fall down laughing, not at the work per se, but OMG - it really IS the BCFO.

    There are all the Kreisler *discoveries*, too. An we were at a Chopin recital many years ago ( I will think of the artist's name eventually . . . Janis maybe???) when he played a *lost* waltz. It seemed that Chopin, the perennial houseguest, would *compose* this *new* waltz at every home he visited, and dedicate to the hostess upon departure. Not sure how many versions exist - but still a funny story - if I recall it correctly.

    Right now, we are watching the Pillars series - and the music is a hoot - I guess if you add a rhythm section or big orchestra to chant, you get - what??? And I recall finding a hilarious *reggae* version of songs of Hildegard of Bingen. I told my students when I played it in class that although Irish monks and Viking sailors had come to the New World long before Columbus - we have no record of Hildegard coming to Jamaica.

    Added - yes, Peter Schickele is cool - but the New Horizons it not really a spoof - the orchestra plays it correctly, except for Bobby Corno laying a huge clam on the horn entrance - New Horizons is a play-by-play and *color* team doing a running commentary as if this were Monday Night Football. Spoofs of Schickele would be things like "My Bonny Lass She Smelleth (making the flowers jealouth . . ")

    I own all his stuff - in vinyl and CD. I remember being at Hartt in the Sixties and getting *chemically altered* in the dorms, and playing this stuff - and it is just as funny sober . . .I betcha I can match you quote for quote from the pantheon.

  • 1 decade ago

    I really enjoy this piece by Glenn Gould, written to illustrate, and sort of to make fun of, the process of writing a fugue. It's called 'So you want to write a fugue', scored for string quartet and four vocalists. It's an insanely clever manipulation of a self-referential text that the vocalists sing in sort-of quadruple fugue (sometimes the eight voices are paired in twos, sometimes they're all separate). Gould's own authorized performance is on Youtube:

    Youtube thumbnail

    Another piece sort of reminiscent of this, but with a slightly different goal, is Paul Drayton's 'Masterpiece', a choral piece which transcribes famous composers' most famous works for a choir which sings them to the syllables of the composer's name. For example, the syllables 'Johann Sebastien Bach' are sung in fugue (I'm not sure if the music is original or if it's simply a transcription of one of Bach's own fugues), and there's a really clever section where various themes set to 'Johann Christian' and 'Wilhelm Friedemann', separated by a musical motif set to 'nein, nein, nein!', as if the parts are actually arguing. A moment later, the lowest voice makes his first entrance with the augmented theme, as if resolving the conflict. Very clever! The next movements are 'Georg Frederich Handel', 'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart', 'Ludwig van Beethoven' (interspersed with words like 'appassionata' and 'sforzando') etc etc... all original, though intentionally imitative music.

  • 1 decade ago

    Stravinsky's Fireworks is a decent pastiche of Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice. The middle section is a close to being a wholesale rip off of the opening section of Apprentice.

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  • Mark T
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Humm I wasn't aware there were riffs on classical pieces - but I was aware of a couple of reworked songs - one of which was a very old Gregorian / Latin piece for the prayer "La Lacrimosa" , it was basically entirely retooled around Spanish Guitar by - a Techno/ industrial artist / group called "Juno Reactor" - This version of Juno Reactor's Conquistador -

    Youtube thumbnail

    - does not include a more industrial / techno component.

    The biggest "formal" hoax in that regard, that I'm aware of was Bach's Partita #2 -

    Youtube thumbnail

    where the thinking was that a "secret" Chorale counterpoint to the violin was discovered in Bach's manuscripts.

    This was the original - as played by Hillary Hahn -

    Youtube thumbnail


    But then again - if we're going for "pop" renditions - there is my earliest remembrance of Bizet's "Habanera" - a strange Sesame Street vignette -

    Youtube thumbnail

    Or the original -

    Youtube thumbnail

  • 1 decade ago

    Peter Schickele (aka PDQ Bach) is hilarious. My favorite is his New Horizons In Music Appreciation, a parody on Beethoven's 5th

  • 1 decade ago

    The italian art song "Se tu m'ami, supposedly by Pergolesi, is actually written by Parisotti, who "edited" it for the standard collection of Italian Songs and Arias studied by every voice student.

    Tre goirni son che Nina, another Pergolesi attribution, was written by Ciampi.

  • 1 decade ago

    Henry Purcell's Trumpet Tune in D by Jeremiah Clark.

    ..."Prince of Denmark's March"

  • 1 decade ago

    BIST DU BEI MIR!!!! By "Bach"

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=related&safe_search=on (The continuo's played on a piano, the sopranos a bit flat, she breaths in the wrong spots, and her germans dreadful.... but Ive decided that I like her because she DOESNT have too much vibrato like so many others (with the exception of Andreas Scholl... but hes so "man with too tight underwear" like, and transposes it.))

    Sure it was in the Anna Magdalena Notebook, but it wasnt by her, or J.S Bach.

    And if that doesnt count, then the (in)famous Toccata and Fugue in Dmin.

  • 1 decade ago

    "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" by 'Flight of the Conchords'.

    OK apologies I know of no spoof classical compositions [er except for that particular Adagio in G minor],

    I just wanted to find out if you were a fan of the former duo, they're really funny..

    Somehow I'm guessing - no ?

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