Comic piano virtuoso Victor Borge seamlessly weaves ‘Happy Birthday’ into Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata

26 May 2021, 16:54 | Updated: 27 May 2021, 10:10

Comic piano genius Victor Borge blends Beethoven with 'Happy Birthday'
Comic piano genius Victor Borge blends Beethoven with 'Happy Birthday'. Picture: YouTube/stefano bettineschi

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The humble ‘Happy Birthday’ has gained its very own Beethoven variations, thanks to musical comedy legend Victor Borge.

Victor Borge was a Danish musical comedian and trained concert pianist, who so memorably coined one of the original viola jokes – ‘The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer’.

Terrible, we know…

But have you seen this brilliant sketch from 1957, in which he combines the first movement of Beethoven’s enduring ‘Moonlight’ Sonata with ‘Happy Birthday’?

Watch, as he seamlessly weaves the famous ditty into one of the great Romantic piano works.

Read more: 5 hilarious videos from Victor Borge, the funniest man in classical music

Happy Birthday - Beethoven - Victor Borge

Born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen in 1909, Victor Borge started entertaining people in the 1920s and didn’t stop until the end of the 20th century.

Nicknamed ‘The Clown Prince Of Denmark’, Borge built a sparkling radio and television career for himself in America and Europe, achieving legendary status as a comic and virtuoso pianist.

Borge would often play around with ‘Moonlight’ Sonata in his sketches, sometimes allowing it to morph into a popular tune like Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’. The great Dane knew his audience weren’t all classical music know-it-alls, and he accommodated for that.

Read more: Conductor tears apart ‘Happy Birthday’ and makes it a million times better

His inimitable brand of comedy was physical humour, always led by amazing musicianship. And his delicate balance of wordplay, physical gags and total mastery of the keyboard, is unrivalled. Which explains why Borge’s irresistible humour is still cracking us up today.

If you do any procrastinating today, may it be a deep and well-spent dive into the YouTube rabbit hole of Victor Borge videos. Here’s one to start you off…

The best Piano performance ever! -Victor Borge