A spark of spur-of-the-moment whimsy has become a musical movement, if you will.
And Richard Perlmutter offers few words to describe the phenomenon that his lighthearted lyrics triggered — including national TV appearances — after being set to Ludwig von Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony tune 16 years ago.
“I think he himself would love it,” the 68-year-old Perlmutter said, speaking from his office in Amherst, Massachusetts. “I believe he had a sense of humor.”
We probably can safely surmise, though, that the vaunted composer’s silliness may not have been as polished as Perlmutter’s. He leads off Beethoven’s classic Fifth Symphony with the words, “Beethoven’s wig/Is very big” and grows to more humorous lengths from there.
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No wonder some people have said, upon hearing the tune of the wig on the musical master’s head: roll over, Beethoven.
But the fact that the song, and other classical, instrumental works that Perlmutter has affixed to modern lyrics are a lock to gain even more popularity seems natural. Perlmutter brings his celebrated free kids multimedia show “Beethoven’s Wig” to the Columbus Area Arts Council’s presentation of Old National Bank’s First Friday For Families on March 2 at The Commons in downtown Columbus.
He will perform live on piano, backed by a rollicking, frivolous cartoon-character orchestra of frogs and other critters on a big screen behind him.
“A frog in your throat is problematic. But a frog on stage? That’s another matter,” he wrote on one portion of his Facebook page.
He’s scored two chart topping albums on Amazon, four Grammy nominations, five Parents Choice Awards, an animated/live concert featuring award-winning videos and performances with actual symphony orchestras.
All because Beethoven, like other classical performers of his day, did indeed wear a wig at one time — though maybe not quite like the one Perlmutter describes with the following lines: “The hair’s so long and flowing/That the wig seems like it’s growing/And it keeps his face from showing/Poor Beethoven’s wig needs mowing.”
Go ahead and laugh. But know that this show offers a serious motivation for many.
“Some of the best emails I’ve gotten are from people who actually have pursued careers in music because they say they were inspired by Beethoven’s wig,” Perlmutter said.
Does that not seem very big?
One musician who recently wrote one of those notes just entered the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City for study.
Perlmutter himself grew up loving all music, which explains why he currently plays guitar or mandolin in several groups when not touring nationwide with Beethoven, Bach and pals.
He loves everything the country of Patsy Cline to the comic classics of Victor Borge to the folk sounds of Gregory Alan Isakov. Though his concerts keep him on the road frequently, he plans to bring wife Judy along for his local appearance. She usually hears his first attempts at humor when applying verses to hallowed instrumentals.
“I’ll definitely ruin songs by her,” he said. “She’s a good critic. She’s very literate, and can tell me if she sees problems.”
Perlmutter paused when asked if he himself dons a towering toupee for his title track of his show. Then he laughed.
“I’m not giving everything away,” he said.
What: The Columbus Area Arts Council’s presentation of Old National Bank’s First Friday For Families with pianist, producer and vocalist Richard Perlmutter performing his nationally touring show “Beethoven’s Wig” for youngsters. Perlmutter has written lighthearted lyrics to many orchestral classics.
When: 6 p.m. March 2.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.
Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.