Victor Borge (Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Johann Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss, Irving Berlin & Modern Music) - Variations on "Happy birthday to you"


Victor Borge is an enigma for me. Though many would consider him to be simply a clown, albeit a clown spoofing classical music, some of his work is, to say the least, strikingly acute and tantalizingly interesting. The present piece is proof of this. The variations form is well-known and appears in virtually any classical music period. It would seem almost impossible to do anything new with the form but Borge proves us wrong by adopting a very unusual approach. He chooses a painstakingly well-known theme, here - "Happy birthday to you", and sets about to create variations to it. But it is only the top of the iceberg: each variation is, effectually, the way a certain composer would write the theme itself. All in all, there are eleven variations of very different composers: we start by passing through Bach and Mozart and finish with Irving and some modern composer whose name I do not know (and Borge's hilarious pronunciation does not help :P). Some of these variations are preceded by a snatch on the composer's original work from which Borge then proceeds to develop the variation. Moreover, some of his variations are rather charming (Brahms or Bach (in spite of a ridiculously humorous long descending line repeated two times)) or even, dare I say it, moving (Beethoven, in spite of some goofing on Borge's part, gets one of the better treatments). I've marked the movements in the video itself but you can also check the title which includes all composers presented in the order of their appearance. My only quibble in this upload comes in the fact that I had to cut a substantial amount of the comedy routine and applause to bring the posting to eleven minutes, thus, only the variations themselves and snatches of the sketch are given. Still, Borge's piece remains unharmed and is still perfectly uplifting. Hope you'll enjoy :).

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