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John Gibbons holds a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Chicago. He teaches music appreciation classes at the Universality of Chicago’s Graham School and at Newberry Library. He also offers private piano lessons in the Chicago area.

Bonnie Gibbons is a web site developer and SEO with a background in classical music. She might be persuaded to teach a few cello lessons in the Chicago area.

Guest Blogger "Charley in the Box" Unveils the "Island of Misfit Scores"



A preliminary note from Mr. Gibbons: Recently, when reluctantly co-opted for a search for a runaway  reindeer, an eccentric prospecter, and a renegade elf, I had the, let’s say, interesting experience of being marooned on a most quaint little island, to wit, the “island of misfit toys”…I didn’t have a chance to meet the  big man on campus, some insufferably pompous flying lion gradiosely appelated “King Moonracer”, but I did while away considerable time jawing with the moody and sentimental sentry (not to put too fine a point on it), Mr. Charley-In-The-Box, hereafter referred to as Chasbo. (With his indulgent permission!)… Well, the upshot of the deal was that, given Chasbo’s deep knowledge of classical music, I invited him to do today’s column, his choices for works deserving to be marooned on their own “island of  misfit scores”. These are his choices, not mine. I love to death all the works he derides. If you have a complaint, don’t come to Holdekunst! Send a letter to: “Sentry Charley-In-The-Box”, C/O King Moonracer, the Isle of the Misfit Toys, Vicinity of the North Pole”-I’m sure that’ll get there just fine. With no further ado, I yield the rest of the post to Chasbo, with the stipulation that the works he chooses have to be either important, popular, or at least substantial. It’s just too easy to send  some symphony by Dittersdorf or some Vivaldi concerto to the island. I’ll see you at the end for a postscript.

We so-called “unwanted toys” may not delight boys and girls as we would like, but we solace ourselves by looking at the majestic lights of the North, the Aurora Borealis. But how many bores can you fit in BorealisBoring works should go to the Island of Misfit Scores!

I hereby nominate Faure’s dud of a Requiem, Mendelssohn’s dud of a second symphony, and that pseudo-mystical dud of alltimes, Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. There’s limits to the patience even of misfit toys!

We have our own “Moon” deal going here, in the August Person of our Beloved Comrade and Leader, the inestimable King Moonracer. We need no dissertations on the moon. To the Island of Misfit Scores with you, Pierrot Lunaire! (that doesn’t go for you, Dvorak’s Rusalka, you can come by, anytime… )

My friend, the “boomerang who doesn’t come back” (he merely plops and stays)  begged me to include a piece that once heard, you want to banish forever, with no hope of its obnoxious notes ever returning to sender: Mr. Orff! Tear down this Carmina Piranha! And take itto the Island of Misfit Scores!

Sacrificing a maiden to death? Are you kidding? We don’t even consider doing that to the most misfitted of our misfit dollies. I had to close young Rudolph’s ears. Get thee hence, Sacre du Printemps

“A scooter for Jimmy, a dolly for Sue, the kind that will even say, ‘how do you do’”… How Do You Do! Our misfit doll says it, and that’s respect, if you like, but there’s precious little respect in today’s world, we misfits have occasion to know this really personally! (editor’s note: Here Chasbo sobs uncontrollably. Itold you he was sentimental! But I don’t know what impolite score he had in mind….Oh, now he’scomposed himself)…Varese’s Ameriques! It’s just noise, how rude can you get? And Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue! It’s rude to insult our intelligence with such potboiling potpourris! To the Island of Misfit Scores, if you’d be so polite as to acommodate us in this regard, Sir, we would certainly greatly appreciate it, if it’s not too much trouble.

Herme wants to be a dentist, and that’s cool with us misfits, but for the island of misfit scores, he needs a dentist that has gone bad. I can only think of one, in Willaim Bolcom’s McTeague. This may not seem fair, but life isn’t fair; who knows this better than us? Welcome to the Island of Misfit Scores

Did you know there was a great pianist who was a misfit like us? Yep, Glenn Gould. And he said, and I quote, “Beethoven’s Violin Concerto gets by on guts and one good tune.” In a gesture of solidarity with a fellow misfit, to the Island of Misfit Scores! (and you’re too long, anyway.)

Well, that’s ten misfit scores, a conventional number for lists such as this. Now I’m going to close the lid of my box and dream of being rescued and placed in the hands of a loving child. Merry Christmas!

Guest Editor’s note: This is Burl Ives, the Talking Snowman. Mr. Gibbons says he’s “indisposed” so I’m nominated to do the postscript. I think I have a pretty good idea why our friend is indisposed- I don’t think he liked ol’ Charlie’s list. Fact of the matter is, I heard him grumble something about “Charlie’sbeen in that box too long”…Our friend Yukon complained that Herme gotdentist score and he didn’t get a prospecter score. I can only think of one score with prospecters, however, “La Faniciulla del West” maybe we’ll run that by our tempermental friend!

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