Grand Overture with Vacuum Cleaners

Malcolm Arnold's "Grand, Grand Overture, Opus 57" is scored for three vacuum cleaners, one floor polisher, four rifles, and a full symphony orchestra. It was originally commissioned for the 1956 Hoffnung Music Festival Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London. It sold out within two hours after the box office opened, breaking all records up to that time for the Royal Festival Hall.

I found a recent performance of it posted on YouTube, but disappointingly the vacuum cleaners are difficult to hear over the orchestra. And the part (around the 8:00 mark) where a gunman pretends to shoot members of the orchestra is gonna make audiences a lot more uncomfortable nowadays than it did back in 1956.

     Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 02, 2019
     Category: Music | 1950s

I went to a local symphony partially dedicated to goofy music, probably on April 1 some years ago. The conductor said he had wanted to use one piece scored for piano, 2 harps, and airplane propeller, but bringing in the airplane engine (or airplane) seemed a bit too much, unfortunately. He said that when that piece originally opened -- in Europe somewhere -- the audience became enraged and demanded their money back.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 11/02/19 at 09:34 AM
Shades of P.D.Q. Bach.
Posted by KDP on 11/02/19 at 01:17 PM
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