The Legendary Victor Børge

Victor Børge is a Danish pianist who has been making quite a name for himself in the classical music world.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at his life and career, and find out what makes him one of the greatest piano comedians and entertainers of all time.

Enjoy the read!

Legendary Victor Børge playing Clair de Lune

This article is not meant to be like Victor Børge’s Wikipedia page, but it aims to highlight and honor the life of this extraordinary pianist and touch upon his life story as well as his accomplishments.

Who was Victor Børge? – Biography

Victor Børge (originally Børge Rosenbaum) was a Danish pianist and conductor, who was born on January 3rd, 1909, in the Danish capital Copenhagen. Victor Børge died in 2000 in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 91 years old and is buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

Piano Education

He started playing the piano when he was just three years old. When he was eight, he gave his first public performance.

He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, for which he had received a full scholarship. Børge’s career took off in the 1930s, when he began to perform in Europe and the United States.

His marriages

Børge was married two times.

Elsie Watts

His first wife was Elsie Watts, a British singer whom he met while touring in England. They were married from 1933 to 1951 and had two adopted children together.

Sanna Scraper

His second wife was the Swedish-American psychologist Sanna Scraper, with whom he was married from 1974 until his death in 2000. They had three children together.

Victor Børge’s funniest moments – his piano jokes

While Børge was a talented pianist, he was also known for his comedic abilities. He often incorporates jokes and humorous asides into his performances.

Mozart

He has been described as “the world’s greatest comedian who just happens to play the piano”. Victor Børge was not just an amazing pianist, he was a talented piano comedian as well. He became known for his humorous stage acts, which included a variety of jokes, one in which he would make fun of Mozart.

The Barber joke

Sometimes, he would also simply tell jokes while accompanying his jokes with the piano. One hilarious example hereof is his barber joke from Copenhagen:

What was Victor Børge’s upside down music?

Børge’s upside down music was a humorous way of playing the piano by turning the sheet music upside down and playing it that way.

Check out the following video on YouTube for a prime example of his funny performances:

What is Victor Børge’s “hands off” joke?

For this joke, Victor Børge shares the stage with opera singer Marilyn Mulvey. While she sings, she repeatedly places her hand on the grand piano, and Victor Børge, funny as always, reminds her to take off her hands.

Accomplishments & Legacy

With such an amazing career, it is no surprise that Victor Børge has achieved many memorable achievements, whose legacy is still upheld to this day.

Victor Børge’s Phonetic Punctuation

Victor Børge’s “Phonetic Punctuation” is a humorous way of punctuating spoken text by using sounds instead of traditional punctuation marks.

Check out this video to see Victor Børge in action, explaining the theory behind it:

Phonetic Punctuation with Dean Martin

Here’s another fun example of Victor Borge’s “Phonetic Punctuation”, this time with Dean Martin:

Victor Børge’s Inflationary Language

Victor Børge’s “Inflationary Language” is a humorous routine in which he makes up words. He does so by changing words that contain number and raises them to the next number.

For instance:

  • I EIGHT a TENderloin steak with my FOURk
  • I NINED a ELEVENderloin steak with my FIVEk

Reading it seems a little odd, but his glorious delivery of jokes makes it incredibly funny:

What is the Thanks To Scandinavia Foundation?

In 1963, Victor Børge and Richard Netter founded Thanks To Scandinavia – a scholarship fund to express gratitude for the heroic deeds of Scandinavians who saved thousands of lives during the Holocaust.

What is the Victor Børge Legacy Award?

The Victor Børge Legacy Award is an annual piano competition for young piano students in the Omaha, Southwestern Iowa, and Des Moines regions. It began in 2011, with the inaugural recital held at the museum in April 2012.

In the competition, two winners will be chosen from each of three local regions. These six then move on to write an essay that explores one aspect of Victor Børge’s life and legacy.

What does Victor Børge have to do with the American Pianists Association?

The American Pianists Association was founded in 1962 by Victor Børge, Tony Habig, and Julius Bloom. The goal of the organization is to help young, American classical and jazz pianists succeed in their careers.

What was The Victor Børge Show?

The Victor Børge Show was a musical comedy television show that aired on CBS from February to June in 1951. It featured Børge’s comedic talents, as well as his piano playing skills.

Which books did Victor Børge publish?

Børge not only wrote musical work, but he also authored three books: 

  • My Favorite Intermissions
  • My Favorite Comedies in Music
  • the autobiography entitled Smilet er den korteste afstand (“The Smile is the Shortest Distance”)

Victor Børge’s best piano performance – Clair de Lune

Many people are so accustomed to and used to watching Victor Børge joking around that his piano skills were somewhat overlooked. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to check out his performance of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

This is definitely one of the best performances you’ll ever encounter:

Conclusion

In conclusion, Victor Børge was an innovative and creative comedian who pioneered many new comedic styles, including musical comedy, phonetic punctuation, and inflationary language. He was also a talented pianist, and his performances were enjoyed by millions around the world.

Even though he is no longer with us, his legacy continues on through the work of the Thanks To Scandinavia Foundation, the Victor Børge Legacy Award, and the American Pianists Association. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out some of his most famous routines, as well as his beautiful piano performance of Clair de Lune.

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