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Victor Borge, Essay Example

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No performer has ever occupied the unique place Victor Borge has in the world of entertainment.  On one level, he is acknowledged as a skilled concert pianist, and one with a mastery of classics.  On another, he has drawn vast audiences over the years because he does the unthinkable: he plays classic concert piano and performs outrageous comedy at the same time.  All of this is evident in the recording of his performing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2.  Even more daringly, Borge plays the piece sharing a bench with another pianist, and the two are continually reaching around each other to strike the keys.  Even their legs intertwine to reach the proper pedals, and the entire performance is nearly gymnastic in nature.

It is also very funny, and this goes to Borge’s standing.  A distinguished-looking Danish man, Borge uses both his appearance and his skill to play with, not the music, but the image of classical pianists.  More exactly, he never makes fun of the music itself.  This is evident in this video in that, as absurd as the dual playing is presented, the rhapsody is played throughout.  When the music accelerates, there is a remarkable sequence of Borge’s hands slipping under and around the hands of the other pianist, but no note is missed.  At one point, he even drops the lid on the keys for a moment, to thwart his colleague. He also rises, walks around, returns to the piano, and grins at the audience.  Borge defies image even in his clothing, as he wears red plaid pants under his tuxedo jacket.  All of this comedy, however, is never directed at the music, but only at himself.  He seems to understand that the audience truly appreciates a sense of fun regarding the seriousness of classical piano, but would not tolerate any mockery of the musical work itself.  As is clear from this video, that is the secret to Borge’s long career as a pianist and entertainer.  He plays with the traditional scenario of the classical pianist in a good-natured, and sometimes outrageous, way.  He enjoys performing broad comedy, and he candidly shares his sense of fun with his audience.  At the same time, he is careful to never actually make fun of what he is playing.  With Victor Borge, as seen in his duet of the Hungarian Rhapsody #2, the joke is always strictly on himself.

Works Cited

“Victor Borge Plays Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2.”   YouTube, 2006.  Web. 18 Sept. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcV19rylSZc

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