On Planet Hoffnung

Rainer Hersch, stand-up comedian and classical music specialist, remembers the brilliant and eccentric contribution to the comic side of classical music from Gerard Hoffnung.

Hoffnung, who died in 1959 at the age of 34, was a cartoonist and wit whose mocking of the solemn rituals of classical music created a sensation in the 1950s.

At a time when the symphony concert was a matter of great seriousness for music-lovers, Hoffnung loved to see the funny side of those formalities.

His famous cartoons took the instruments of the orchestra - and the characters of the people who played them - and sent them up mercilessly.

In 1956 Hoffnung had the idea of translating the cartoons into real life.

With a combination of realisations of his weird cartoon instruments and suitably eccentric compositions to showcase them, the first Hoffnung Music Festival took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Rainer Hersch delves into the BBC archives to meet Hoffnung and those who were part of those first concerts, while on the South Bank he encounters two musicians who had to grapple with these memorable, yet oddball orchestral occasions.

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Rainer Hersch, stand-up comedian and classical music specialist, remembers the brilliant and eccentric contribution to the comic side of classical music from Gerard Hoffnung.

Hoffnung, who died in 1959 at the age of 34, was a cartoonist and wit whose mocking of the solemn rituals of classical music created a sensation in the 1950s.

At a time when the symphony concert was a matter of great seriousness for music-lovers, Hoffnung loved to see the funny side of those formalities.

His famous cartoons took the instruments of the orchestra - and the characters of the people who played them - and sent them up mercilessly.

In 1956 Hoffnung had the idea of translating the cartoons into real life.

With a combination of realisations of his weird cartoon instruments and suitably eccentric compositions to showcase them, the first Hoffnung Music Festival took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Rainer Hersch delves into the BBC archives to meet Hoffnung and those who were part of those first concerts, while on the South Bank he encounters two musicians who had to grapple with these memorable, yet oddball orchestral occasions.