Comedian Sid Caesar, who died Wednesday at age 91, is being remembered as a genius of television and comedy. Yet he had some serious musical experience too: he was a saxophonist who played in dance bands and orchestras in resorts in the Catskills; he audited several courses at Juilliard; and he could sing.
Caesar did a few comedy routines set to classical music: The most famous example of his rhythmic inventiveness came in "Argument to Beethoven's Fifth," which featured Caesar and Nanette Fabray bickering in cadence to the symphony's first movement.
Another routine featured some of Grieg's Piano Concerto, as seen in this grainy clip:
Caesar also dabbled in opera. A 1955 episode of "Caesar's Hour" on NBC features a spoof on the opera Pagliacci by Leoncavallo. The comedian plays the role of "Gallipacci" (Canio in the real opera) an actor in a traveling Italian comedia dell'arte troupe during the late 19th century.
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