The Music of Alfredo Fettuccini

Copyright © by Fred Flaxman, 1997.


It's a mystery to me why the late Italian composer, Alfredo Fettuccini, is not better known. After all, it's hard to imagine music that is more down to earth, accessible, almost, you might say, edible.

Take, for example, his stirring Concerto for Dishwasher and Orchestra. My wife and I used to play this CD almost every evening after dinner. But when we built our new home we had French doors installed between the living room and the kitchen. So now we hear his Sonata for Solo Dishwasher if we stay in the kitchen, and his Concerto for Orchestra if we remain in the living room.

My favorite piece by Fettuccini is probably his Ishka bibily oten doten wabash ka booten booten wahbash kaboon. [It doesn't sound as good in English, but loosely translated it means Lament for the sock which disappeared some place between the washing machine and the chest of drawers.] This brooding, lyrical work was recorded on the Latex Label and stretches to fit any CD or laserdisc player, turntable or foot.

Not many people know this, but Fettuccini also wrote the score to the Hollywood fruit exploitation film, The Pear Pickers, produced right here in southern Oregon. His musical, The Phantom of the Craterion, will have its world première in Medford later this month.

Although some scholars think it was really Fettuccini who wrote the score for Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, the truth is that he was the composer of a far more compelling filmscore: Franz Kafka's The Cockroach. Unfortunately that film was never produced for lack, ironically, of adequate backing. But it may yet be made some day as the subject matter is expected to outlive its audience on the World Stage. The music, in any case, is crusty, biting and fast-paced, although some say it is a bit hard to digest. I'd call it light-weight.

Fettuccini's most passionate and sensual composition is his controversial Serenade for Safe Sex in B-flat with a Minor (Condom Classics CD 6969). If its 3"54' length is too short for your purposes, press the automatic repeat button on your compact disc player. Better yet, turn up the volume slightly with your remote control on each repetition and you can create an effect similar to Ravel's Bolero.

Alternatively, you may want to try the longer and deeper Sextet for Strings and Tuba or the music to Fettuccini's opera, The Emperor's Nude Clothes. The sound on this CD is exceptionally clear and the accompanying program notes are quite revealing. Another possibility would be the composer's incidental music to Playboy of the Western World, but its length (more than two hours) may be longer than you want.

Of course, any Italian composer worth his salt will be inspired as much by cuisine as by copulation, and Fettuccini was no exception. His Symphony No. 6 ("The Pasta Roll") should be a part of the standard repertoire, but isn't. Nor is his Capuccino Concerto or his Café con léccé for contralto, mixed basses and assorted mafioso. His crowning testament to nourishment, though, is indisputably his opera Salami. I particularly enjoy the Dance of the Seven Whales. You can also buy the Salami Suite. It's divided into 14 slices.

If, by this point, you're thinking that the music of Fettuccini is too good to be true, you're right. Please accept my best wishes for a happy April Fool's Day and two tickets to the Fettuccini Festival planned for next Feb. 30 at Sammy's Cowboy Bistro and Concert Hall in beautiful, downtown Talent, Oregon.


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