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Los Angeles-born composer Barry Socher, Professor at the Elysian Heights Institute for Advanced Studies in Musicological Archaeology, is a researcher in that area of study, helping to discover and uncover — to dig up — works by and information about previously unknown and forgotten composers that otherwise might not have seen the light of day. His first work in the field was under the tootelage of Herr Professor Doktor Wewald von Hohenschlagerschlagend, after which he was able to move from the field into the adjacent building.
Socher’s first solo musicological archaeological dig resulted in the hysteric discovery of several works by the master of the transitional period between the Low Baroque and the Middle Ragtime, Wolfgang Amadeus Schwartz. These works included the grand oratorio Irving In Egypt and the “The Monster and the Maiden” String Quartet. Later digging yielded the first modern acknowledgment of the existence of J. S. Bach’s illegitimate grandson Friedrich Berthold Ignatz (F.B.I.) Bach with the discovery of The Fugue-ative. Branching out from 18th- and 19th-century European music, the Professor made the remarkable discovery of the Simon Rodia of early 20th-century American classical music, Debussy Fields, and his quartet Prelude to the Afternoon on a Farm.
In addition to his work as the Indiana Jones of musicology, the Professor is active as a composer and violinist. His compositions have been performed by ensembles on both sides of Interstate 15 and have included Tiny Gorillas, Spring Fever, Duke of Erlking, Audition Blues, and Pachelbel Cannonball, among many others. He was composter-in-residence at the Quite-a-Few Saints Church in Pearblossom and had a work featured as a major part of the soundtrack to a film by the French-Mexican director, Pierrot Armadillár. His studies with the eminent French-Italian-American virtuoso violinist Zino Frances Scott Key helped prepare him for his work in Musicological Archaeology in that Key’s ancestor of the same name was a colleague of Wolfgang Amadeus Schwartz, who suggested the main theme to the first movement of Schwartz’s “Winter” Sonata, marked “Allegro assai can you see.” He has been able to present his discoveries to the public due to his positions as concertmaster and Directeur Artistique du Jour of L’Orchestre de la Suisse Fromage and founder of the orchestra of the Los Angeles Apprentice Chorale.
Professor Socher began to write an arrangement for string quartet of at least parts of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps in the mid-1970s, but soon came to the realization that there was no way he could make just four instruments sound anything like that piece. All that remained of that attempt were a few bars of score and the title. Then on the first day of Spring in 1980 his son Aron was born, making him the “Socher du Printemps.”
Years later, in the summer of 2001, after having written many arrangements, derangements and compositions for string quartet, Barry Socher again attempted to arrange this masterpiece that he had studied much and played many times during those years and more. This time, however, he intended including other “Spring” compositions and other styles of music, much as he had done in many other works. The result is Le Socher du Printemps, the first performance of which was played that year by the Armadillo String Quartet at “Dilloween,” its annual concert and party given in costume during the Halloween season since 1985.
— Barry Socher