When I was about 12, I was introduced to Victor Borge. I used to like to watch the Boston Pops broadcasts back in the days when John Williams (the composer and not the guitarist) conducted them. I’m still amused by his comedy even years later.
Victor Borge studied with some of the greatest pianists of all time. One of teachers, Frederic Lamond, was a Liszt pupil. He also studied with Egon Petri, one of the great disciples of one of the most talented men in all of music, the Italian composer, conductor, pianist, writer, editor and teacher Ferruccio Busoni. Busoni was not merely a pianist. He was an industry unto himself.
Somewhere along the way, Borge discovered his talent for comedy. Apparently, he had a devastating impression of Adolf Hitler which earned him the Führer’s ire. After a narrow escape from Finland, he came to America not knowing a word of English.
Borge retained strong ties with his native Denmark. He was knighted by the monarchs of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Additionally, he was made a member of the Order of the White Rose of the Republic of Finland in gratitude for his work in setting up a foundation which aids students from Scandinavian countries who wish to study in America. His Thanks to Scandinavia Foundation continues to fund scholarships and fellowships which enable Scandinavian and Bulgarian students to study in the USA. He left after the Nazi occupation of his country. He was Jewish. After the War, he returned to Denmark often. He celebrated his 80th birthday with a concert at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.
While my first instrument was the piano, I later came to learn a couple of wind instruments. When you are a woodwind player, as I was, the last thing you want to happen is for something funny to happen. This clip with Victor Borge and the Danish recorder virtuosa Michala Petri shows how difficult this can be. If you click on CC, you can get English subtitles. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to speak Danish already.