Day at Night was an interview series on the public television station of the City University of New York that aired from 1973-4. CUNY TV is in the process of digitizing and uploading the 130 episodes that were produced, with 46 done so far. The episodes are just under half an hour in length. Among the people interviewed by host James Day are author Ray Bradbury, actress Myrna Loy, medical researcher Jonas Salk, singer Cab Calloway, writer Christopher Isherwood, nuclear scientist Edward Teller, comedian Victor Borge, tennis player Billie Jean King, linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, composer Aaron Copland, actor Vincent Price and boxer Muhammad Ali.
A world-class comedian, Victor Borge could please a crowd with his Phonetic Punctuation or Inflationary Language bits. But he was also a brilliant pianist, as showcased when he improvised an impressive encore to a piece he had only heard and never played before, much to his apparent delight. Still better was when he'd merge the two passions, like in Page-Turner or The Minute Waltz. He entertained for more than 75 years, performing up to 60 shows even at 90 years old. He died peacefully in 2000, just two days after performing a concert in Denmark, on the blue here, before dots were all the rage. [more inside]
Jason Robards passes away today - and seems to solidify the pop theory that famous people die in threes (or not.)
Victor Borge dies. The number of comedic musicians who make fun of the form has always been extremely small; I can only think of three. The Big Band era had Spike Jones and his City Slickers. Modern rock has Weird Al. But Classical music had its own, and it was Victor Borge. Like the City Slickers and like Weird Al, in order to do a good job of making fun of something you must be technically excellent at it, and he was a superb pianist, and did do some serious performances. But his main stock in trade was comedy. I remember seeing him perform on TV when I was a kid, which would have been near the end of his career. I don't include Tom Lehrer among their number; he wasn't making fun of music, he was using music as a medium to deliver jokes. The Smothers Brothers perhaps qualify, making fun of folk music, and they too were superb technically when they wanted to be serious. Any others?