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Top Five Terrible Puns in Classical Music

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Puns. They’re irresistible to headline writers and pops concert producers, but their usage usually evokes groans rather than giggles. The classical music lexicon is rich with names (Handel, Haydn, and Bach) and terms (beat, treble, and baroque) that lend themselves to witty or not so witty wordplay. We’ve made our Top Five Liszt – er, list – of puns. Please add your own zingers in the comments section.

1. “If it’s not baroque don’t fix it”

We’re not sure who said this first, but the enchanted Cogsworth immortalized this in Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast." We can see Lumiere rolling his eyes at his corny friend’s attempt at a joke.

2. “Too Hot to Handel"

The interchangeability of Handel with handle has launched thousands of puns, and this one was used for the title of Marin Alsop’s Jazz-Messiah, as description for a steamy production of the composer’s Acis and Galatea, an exercise program to classical favorites, and the writing on a potholder.

3. "Bach to Basics”

Perhaps the only composer who compares to Handel with his vast number of puns is Bach. This phrase has been alternatively used for concerts, a program for at-risk students, a comedy routine, and even we fell into its trap.

4. "Messiaen Around”

Yes, Messiaen sounds a bit like messing, but that doesn’t mean that invoking the 20th century composer’s name will give more depth to musical compositions.

5. "Chopin Liszt"

This truly awful pun graces the tops of several notepads. We hope that it never appear anywhere else.