I Hear A Sym-Phony

I’m never sure how far these posts travel or who sees them, so I want to avoid any misunderstanding by clarifying a couple of things in advance. In the following, I poke fun mostly at symphony musicians and eventually the French, a little bit. This is all in the spirit of parody as in my last two posts, which took the piss out of my own, namely jazz bands. I have the utmost respect for symphonic musicians, in fact my grandfather Tom Burry played tympani with the T.S.O. for about 40 years. Besides, having been around orchestral players many times, I know their sense of humour about themselves and their profession may be even more pointed and satirical than mine. As for the French….well, who can resist taking them down a notch or two once in a while? 


A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless to ensure his continued safety, not to mention survival) suggested that at the rate I was going with the funny-name bands, I would soon have an entire Symphony Orchestra on my hands. “What a horribly delicious idea,” I thought, while also noting that some things are best left buried. Deeply. In the end though, I couldn’t resist the challenge, thinking, “How hard could it be to come up with 95 cringe-worthy, groan-inducing musical pun-names?” Well, three days later, with the completely unexpected help of my long-suffering wife Anna (who I thought would put the kibosh on the whole thing), I actually had too many names, had to cut back. Without further ado then, here is the Bellevue Symphony Orchestra, or B.S.O. for short :

Conductor – Chaim Payne-Diaz

Assistant Conductor –  Otto Gethernow


Concertmaster – Igor Testicle

Assistant Concertmaster – Menachem Dedd

First Violins – Yehudi  Mann  Oliver Tuoso  Itzhak Alamity  Iona Strad 

David Awestruck  Marcos D’Pitts  Vy Bratto  Diva Preening  Beau Jocki   

Isaac Sturmendrang  Otis Crickneck  DuBose Wayward [1]  Barbie Hind

Warren Horsair  Shlomo Gliss

Second Violins – Principal – Cadence Hogg  Asst. Principal – Marc Atto

Armando Remi  Ida Bowmeister  Abraham Strung  Morris Kreetch

Guarneri Waster  Ivana Downbeat  Moishe Rozzin  Gonzalo Verdaplace

Joshua Shucksmum  Chauncey Fraser  Neilson Blackboard  Otis Crepe

A. Tadd Sharpe  Imelda Arcos  Hy Dindeweeds

Violas – Principal – Aldo Klef  Asst. Principal – Minorca Denza

Melody Voider  Seymour Rests  Dinah Boredom  Hollis Knotwell  

Judy Obscure  Armin Tempo-Stahler  Hurd Little  Rigor Setzin  Lois Teem

Cellos – Principal – Havroomi Thighs  Asst. Principal – Hugo Friller [2]

Fidel Straddler  Richard Rone  Ignatieff Holz  Abel Doublestopper

Ebenezer Klencht  Mitoslav Lostolapitch  Monique Ramps  Thor Wrist

Basses  Principal – Garth Underwood  Asst. Principal – Chloe String

Debussy N. Hawkesworthy [3]  Saul Below  Lon Genecker [4]  

Guido Basso-Profundis  Maria Callous  Jethro Baxacet    


Flutes Principal – Offaly Tutankhamen

Trilby Quick  Misha Riller  Piccolo – Pierce D’Ozone

Clarinets – Principal – Li Quor Ischtick 

Albert Orboehm [5]  Marshall Umeau [6]  Bass Clarinet – Bigelow Gurgle

Oboes – Principal – Too Ning Ay

Lotta Bray  Sasha Densewood  English Horn – Cora N. Glaze [7]

Bassoons – Principal – Heckel Sorjaw [8]

Abe Ishmel Racket  Contra-Bassoon – Richter Scale


French Horns – Principal – Belle Fister

Maximillian Blatz  Howell Diablo  Spitz Oudabach  Kahlo DeWilde

Trumpets – Principal – Bix Bydebook

Crosby Flatt  Lou Sembrochure  Hees de Kaaker

Trombones – Principal – Isaac Butt [9]

Maury Lastik  Bass Trombone – Denton Bell

Tuba – Cannon Salvo

Harp – Angelica Plink (Angelica has a busy solo career, so her two subs are Shania Twang and Sara Fimm.) 

Keyboard – Clare de Rhoom, Glenn Ghoul

Percussion – Principal Tympani – Bill Dingahouse [10]  

Mal Lettz  Rollo ver Beethoven  Consuela Vanoys  Miles O’Dynn

Music Librarians – Manny Uskript  Enos DeSkor

Personnel Manager – Majorca Straw


Catering – Carmina Buryani  Sigouda So Edam

Wardrobe – Ty Zentails  Flo Wingown

Box Office Administration – Price E. Seets  Willa Comp

Patron Co-ordinator – Hoyt Etoity

Accounting – Toilette Douche

Legal Services – Gonder Hellenbach


Footnotes  Some of these are a bit far-fetched and inside, even for me. So by way of explanation :

First of all and generally, the violas. Personally, I think the viola is the most beautiful sounding of all the string instruments, but it’s also the most overlooked. Some of the names here reflect the emotional fallout from this neglect and the frustration of seldom getting interesting parts to play.

[1] DuBose Wayward is distantly related to DuBose Heyward, who was famous for writing the libretto for Porgy and Bess.

[2] Hugo Friller is a play on the famous cello-maker Matteo Gofriller.

[3] Debussy N. Hawkesworthy is from the English instrument company Boosey & Hawkes, which made a lot of basses among other things.

[4] Lon Genecker is derived from the actual name of one of the bassists in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, David Longenecker. My deepest apologies to him, but what are the odds a real bassist would have that name? He’s a great player and the proud owner of the famous bass played by Ray Brown on hundreds of records c. 1950-65.

[5] There are two systems of clarinet playing – the fleeter, lighter Boehm favoured by most classical players – and the slower, fuller-toned Albert, favoured by most New Orleans jazz clarinettists. Hence, Albert Orboehm.

[6] Marshall Umeau is a pun on the clarinet’s lower register, dubbed the “chalumeau” by the French, who think they invented the clarinet, along with most other things in the world. Marshall Umeau = more chalumeau. 

[7] Speaking of them, Cora N. Glaze is a horrible pun on the frequently used French name for the English Horn – Cor Anglais. Eddie Condon once said he didn’t see why American musicians needed French critics like Hughes Panassie and Andre Hodeir to tell them how to play jazz – he would never dream of telling them how to stomp on a grape. Well, to paraphrase Eddie, if it’s an English Horn, then why the hell do we need a French name for it? And for that matter, why isn’t the French Horn just called le Cor Francais?

[8] Heckel is the name of the world’s most famous (if that’s possible) bassoon-maker. The Sorjaw bit is self-explanatory.

[9] Isaac Butt = I, Sackbutt. Back in the good old days when everyone was “going Baroque”, the trombone was known as the sackbutt. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how (or why) this changed, considering how the thing sounds. 

[10] Credit for the wonderfully percussive name Bill Dingahouse must go to Big Sam Davis, passed on in a comment to this site made by Mitch Clarke – thanks Mitch. Big Sam Davis was a much-revered bassist in the T.S.O. for many years.

Postscript Naturally, the standards of such an illustrious orchestra are high and many hopefuls were weeded out in rigorous auditions, including :

Hans Solo (Concertmaster), violinists Hardy Scraper, Boyd Erhoff, Orville Dragg, Cher Zastand, Mahogany Chinrest, Guy Tardando, J.S. Orbach, Caesar Backside and Bo Marking. Fritz Tragic, Adam Shame, Ira Pence, Viola Fuss and Morrie Peets were among the viola also-rans. 

Cellists who didn’t make the cut were Akem Timbrezoff, Anita Tooner, Howie Bose, Roz Indust and Bee Tweenlegs. Ditto such bassists as : Wade Eiper, Playas D’Rootz, Claude Hopper and Gonter Ground.

Among the woodwinds turned away were flautists Haynes Tooter, Sheila Noyou and Jeff Rotull. Clarinettists Dexter Usley, Reed Flyschitt and Ebony Mangler. Oboists, such as Felix Pittle, Gil Wind and Reed Carver. Rejected bassoonists included Titus Pucker, Vanessa di Fagotte and Gray Tingberps.

Rebuffed French Horns included Cris Pertone, Hiram Bunxious and Windsor Bust. Trumpeters who didn’t make the grade were Regis Midstaff, Harmon Sluice and Dermid Range, while trombone rejects included Arno Valves, Sly D’Offen and bass trombonist Mi Too Lo.

There were an incredible number of aspiring tuba players who didn’t make it, including Mack Truck, Maximus Blasto, Desi Bells, Deblow Fathoms, Dante Zinferno, Dover Blowz and Weydon Yonder.

The percussion field was also wide open, with Hagood Beater, Leif Snarezon, Ezra Pounds, Helmut Allic, Shirley Temple-Blox, Rush Maddeley, Gunga Din-Makur, Ephraim Cymbalist Jr. and Buddy Zteff not cutting it.

Two over-the-hill conductors were let go to make room for new blood – A. Bjorn Hamm and Rouge Baton Depodium. Good riddance. 

Best, Bernard Goetz-Winded

© 2013, Steve Wallace. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “I Hear A Sym-Phony

  1. Hi Steve,
    I was one of Tom Burry’s students. I ran into you many times, over the years. I remember the first time, at Betty’s Booze Can, (the old BBC), after you came back from the USSR, when you were just a kid. That was great. The last time was at a Pub on John Street, (in the late ’90’s), and you were supposed to play a gig in the next hour. I encouraged you to go, and leave the girl you were talking to, and it took time, but you eventually left, and from I understand, you played your ass off, as per usual.
    Anyway, I have a few of Tom’s instruments, which I bought when he was in an old folks home, and I think they should go back to you, or somebody in the family.
    There’s a great old 23 inch hand cranked tympano, a Deagan glockenspeil, and a Deagan Xylophone , and (as Tom said), the best Zlydian crash cymbals you’ll ever hear, that I think you should have….for let’s say… $3,500 for the lot.
    I want these things to go to a good family, and why not the original one?

  2. Hi Steve,

    Was thinking about this the other day and I realized Tim Dawson might remember Big Sam Davis’s list of musicians’ names. Miraculously Tim came up with a whole list of remembered pun-names.
    Hugh Loadem and Hy Packem (Roadies)
    Pluck Hugh on harp
    Fuzzy Reid on sax
    O. Howie Plucks on bass
    Bob Scratchit on fiddle
    Hassim Abaton- Egyptian conductor
    Willie Maket on lead trumpet
    Justin Case – backup trumpet
    Sly Doyle on trombone
    I. Rumblelow on contrabassoon
    Yussem Rhaseen – concertmaster
    Izzy Steelin- accountant
    Ab Sconds – manager
    Oliver Lepage- librarian
    Tim Pani – kettledrums
    Bill Dingahouse – drums
    and I remembered copyists – Al Fine an Del Segno

    Hope all is well and safe at your end of the swamp. MC

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