Columbo (1971–2003)
26 user 7 critic

Étude in Black 

A ruthless conductor murders the gifted pianist with whom he is having an affair. Lt. Columbo is on the case.


, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


(teleplay by), (story by) | 3 more credits »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Rifkin
Janice Benedict
Jenifer Welles
Lizzy Fielding
Billy Jones
The House Boy
Sam (scenes deleted)
Dawn Frame ...
Charles Macaulay ...
Wallace Chadwell ...
TV Director


Music conductor Alex Benedict has an affair with a pianist. When the pianist threatens to reveal their affair to Benedict's wife, whose wealthy mother owns the company on which Benedict's career is dependent, Benedict decides to permanently silence his mistress. He arranges for her death to look like a suicide by kitchen stove gas asphyxiation. Lieutenant Columbo, a cunning detective in a rumpled raincoat, doesn't believe the pianist took her own life and suspects that Benedict was responsible for her death. He pesters Benedict with constant questions as he searches for clues to place Benedict at the murder scene. Written by Kevin McCorry <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 September 1972 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


During the rehearsal in the garden, the conductor tells the orchestra to play an "up bow" on the 4th beat of measure 29, and then he specifically points at the second violin section. Looking into the score you can see that the second violins have a break written in the notes at that point. It's only the first violins who actually play. He also instructs them to make a crescendo on the down bow but it wouldn't make any sense to divide the first violin bowing into two bows at that time. See more »


Jenifer's hands don't match her piano playing. See more »


Lieutenant Columbo: Well listen. Audrey, it's been nice talkin to ya, and I appreciate the advice about the dog.
Audrey: [Looking at the dog] What's his name?
Lieutenant Columbo: Ya know, I don't know the name yet? What do you think about 'Fido'?
Audrey: [sarcastically] Oh, WOW, how'd you ever think of THAT one?
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Featured in Pioneers of Television: Crime Dramas (2011) See more »


Lover Man
Composed by Jimmy Davis
Played by James Olson's combo at jazz club.
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User Reviews

The Conductor
20 February 2016 | by (North America) – See all my reviews

John Cassavetes stars as a suave but amoral Classical music conductor named Alex Benedict who feels forced to murder his pianist mistress after she threatens to tell his wife(played by Blythe Danner) and more importantly his mother-in-law(played by Myrna Loy) who owns the company he works at, about the affair. He makes it look like a suicide, but this doesn't fool Lt. Columbo(Peter Falk) who is sure it is murder, and that Alex is guilty, but must look in an unusual place to prove it... First episode of the second season is quite good, with the two stars(and real-life friends) playing off each other well. A bit too long and padded, but otherwise memorable entry.

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