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  1. The 1988 British film, "Madame Sousatzka," is one of "those" movies that's a personal favorite, but also one which you tend not to recommend to others, since it's so esoteric and focused - you just don't think that most people will enjoy it. I'd seen John Schlesinger's film revolving around an eccentric piano teacher (Shirley MacLaine in a uniquely quirky performance as Irina Soustazka), and her current young piano prodigy, Manek Sen (played excellently, and (just as importantly) with pretty convincing piano, by 16-year-old Navin Chowdhry). Anyway, I'd seen Madame Sousatzka at least twice in the past - once when it was released, at least one additional time on video, and then over-and-over again with some of my favorite clips on YouTube. However, a couple weeks ago on Amazon Prime, I rented it again, and began noticing scenes that I simply did not remember. At first, I thought the passage of time had dimmed my memory, but this continued to occur, and then it became obvious that in the past, enormous portions of the film had been edited out - perhaps almost as much as thirty minutes. I had always felt like this was a charming film, full of brilliant moments, but also with wasted potential throughout; now, I know why I thought this: It's because, for whatever reason, editors had gutted enough scenes to leave the versions that I saw nearly incoherent at times. Now, for the first time ever, I feel like I've actually experienced Madame Sousatzka as Schlesinger intended for me to see it - the difference between this experience, and past experiences, was remarkable enough so that I can't think of another film that had been so thoroughly stripped of its vitality and essence. I now realize that what I'd previously thought as simply foibles in the story, was actually tragedy in the editing room - this film had been denuded of what makes it great, and *now* I can finally say, after nearly thirty years, that Madame Sousatzka is a great film. The more you know about classical music, especially the standard concert piano repertoire, the better. Chowdhry isn't actually playing the pieces, but his fingers are hitting the notes, even in the most difficult pieces, so he was clearly a high-level amateur pianist that had studied the instrument for years. He was also utterly charismatic, charming, and the oldest of old souls, considering he played a sixteen-year-old. If you've ever watched Madame Sousatzka, and feel as I felt (that it was a "fun, cute movie with lots of holes"), please do yourself a favor and watch it on Amazon Prime. I remember during this Charlie Rose interview, David Lynch's outrageously terrible flop, "Dune" (which I contend is one of the worst movies I've ever seen), is revealed by Wallace to have been completely butchered by editors, to the point of rendering it incoherent. Although not as bad as "Dune," what the editors did to "Madame Sousatzka" is surely in the same vein - they very nearly killed the movie. (Full disclosure: I think Frank Herbert's "Dune," beloved by many science-fiction fans, is one of the most interminable, arduous books I've ever read - it took me over six months to read, and I hated myself for finishing it.) I won't spoil the plot for you, but this is not action-packed, and is very much of a cerebral film (with a couple of very hair-raising moments). Please give Madame Sousatzka another chance - it's a wonderful film, and I never even knew it. It's remarkable that I can't find *anything* on the internet about it ever having been butchered (or restored). One last thing: There are numerous supporting roles (close to a half-dozen) that are all superb - this is a very, very strong cast. Yes, even Twiggy.
  2. You can rest assured that I'll be watching each-and-every episode of "Mozart In The Jungle." I don't care how "unrealistic" it is - I just watched the Pilot and loved it! The pilot features Malcolm McDowell, Bernadette Peters (whom I saw with Mandy Patinkin on Broadway in "Sunday In The Park With George"), and one heck of a lot of bawdy, wicked classical-musician humor. This is right up my alley, and I'm going to make sure Matt is sheltered from watching it! "Classical Music As 'Jungle' Rings True - 'Mozart In The Jungle,' An Amazon Series" by Zachary Woolfe on nytimes.com Season One (Dec 23, 2014) -1.1 - "Pilot" Directed by Paul Weitz (Academy Award Co-Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay for Co-Directing "About a Boy", Co-Director of "American Pie") Written by Alex ("Shiver Me'") Timbers (Multiple Nominations for Golden Globe, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, London Evening Standard, Off-Broadway Theater ("OBIE"), Lucille Lortel, and Emmy Awards), Roman Coppola (Academy Award Co-Nominee for Best Original Screenplay for "Moonrise Kingdom"), and Jason Schwartzman (Nominee for Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture for "Shopgirl") Featuring: Oboe (Hailey Rutledge) - Lola Kirke (Daughter of Simon Kirke, Former Drummer for "Bad Company") Violinist Playing Tschaikovsky Concerto Op 35 (Joshua Bell) - Joshua Bell (Violinist in "Pearls before Breakfast") Conductor, Retiring (Thomas Pembridge) - Malcolm McDowell (Alex "Alec" DeLarge in "A Clockwork Orange") Cellist (Cynthia Taylor) - Saffron Burrows (Dr. Susan McAlester in "Deep Blue Sea") Chairman of the Board (Gloria Windsor) - Bernadette Peters (25+ Nominations for Tony (2), Drama Desk (2), Emmy (2), Golden Globe (2), and Grammy Awards) Conductor, Debuting (Rodrigo De Souza) - Gael García Bernal (Che Guevara in "The Motorcycle Diaries") Dancer-Bartender (Alex Merriweather) - Peter Vack (Jason Strider on "I Just Want My Pants Back") [Malcolm McDowell is a retiring conductor for a major New York symphony, being replaced by an obvious imitation of Gustavo Dudamel (played by Gael García Bernal) - a real-life character with whom you should familiarize yourself. Sex, drugs, and debauchery surround these talented, young musicians, and I can tell this is going to be one heck of a scare thrown into me as the potential parent of a college music major (give me back my *child*, damn it!). This will be the type of show where modern-day female sexuality is celebrated, and it will be a challenge to keep track of who's having sex with whom. Bernadette Peters plays a great role as the Chairman of the Board, but as the NY Times article cited above says, she's more like an "Executive Director," smitten with Rodrigo (the Dudamel character). This ten-episode series is going to be one heck of a ride, I can tell. It's easily rated R, so it isn't for children. There are so many important character introductions in this pilot that I didn't know who to show in the picture; instead, I showed the entire orchestra, plus Peters and Bernal, magically pulling out a rose (Gabriel Garcia-Marquez-type magical realism is supposed to abound in this series, although this is the only "moment" in the Pilot episode, and it could easily be explained by a clever slight-of-hand).] - 2.2 - "Fifth Chair" Directed by Paul Weitz (2), Written by Paul Weitz and John Strauss (Grammy Award Winner for "Amadeus") - 2.3 - "Silent Symphony" Directed by Bart Freundlich, Written by Mark Steilen - 2.4 - "You Have Insulted Tschaikovsky" Directed by Daisy von Scheler Mayer (Director of "Party Girl"), Written by David I. Stern - 2.5 - "I'm With the Maestro" Directed by Tricia Brock (Director of 3 Episodes of "The Walking Dead"), Written by Alex Timbers (2) and Nikki Schiefelbein - 2.6 - "The Rehearsal" Directed by Bart Freundlich (2), Written by - Story: Paula Yoo, Teleplay: John Strauss (2) and David I. Stern (2) - 2.7 - "You Go to My Head" Directed by Roman Coppola (2), Written by Adam Brooks (Director and Writer of "Definitely, Maybe") and Kate Gersten
  3. I asked this awhile back on Twitter, and nobody bit, so I'll give it a go here: I know for a fact - from musical knowledge alone - that the year after Mozart died was a leap year. How do I know this? Hint: This answer is no more impressive than being able to recite the states bordering the Mississippi River. The winner gets an autographed picture of Jay Silverheels. BTW (and this belongs in the Science Forum) - there's an easier way than piecing together the two nuggets of musical history I'm in possession of: Leap Years occur when, and only when: The year can be evenly divided by 4; If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless; The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year. The reason for the second two rules is because a leap year isn't exactly 4 years, just as Pi is not exactly 3.14, and it needs an adjustment every 133 years or so. I suspect there's also a fourth rule that makes an even less-frequent adjustment - perhaps something like "Every 25,000 years, ignore rule two" - this is basically a way to approximate an irrational number using rational numbers - like saying Pi is "equal" to 355/113: Note that, unless you have *really* good genetics: For the rest of your life, every single year divisible by 4 will be a leap year.
  4. I got a nonsensical email yesterday from one of my two big classical music friends (from Dallas) addressed to me and another guy in New York: "Now that the National Symphony has a real music director and and Citronelle has closed, when do we drink Krug?" The guy from New York replied: "Rocks help me parse this email. You are in DC." Dallas: "No just thirsty in Dallas." --- This made no sense to me until I saw this just now: "National Symphony Orchestra Names Rising Star Gianandrea Noseda as Music Director" by Anne Midgette on washingtonpost.com I know virtually nothing about Gianandrea Noseda, but I know enough about the person sending this email to be 100% sure that this must be some type of enormous coup for the NSO, so this is great news for the city of DC. Founded in in 1931, the National Symphony Orchestra will have only its eighth Music Director with the appointment of Noseda. As you can see, it has been a relatively turbulent time since 2008: 1931-1949: Hans Kindler 1949-1970: Howard Mitchell 1970-1977: Antal Doráti 1977-1994: Mstislav Rostropovich 1996-2008: Leonard Slatkin 2008-2010: Iván Fischer 2010-2017: Christoph Eschenbach 2017- Gianandrea Noseda
  5. The 2015 (15th) International Tschaikovsky Competition took place from Jun 15 - Jul 3, 2015, and is available for recorded streaming at this website. Piano - Violin - Cello - Voice To view all the contestants in all the early rounds, go to the website, then click on your instrument of choice, then click on "Replay." Every single performance throughout the competition is available, and it's a real gift that this is available for free streaming. --- The International Tschaikovsky Competition debuted in 1958, and is *the* competition that made Van Cliburn famous (with Emil Gilels and Sviatislov Richter defying the rest of the Soviet judges (when Richter saw what the other Soviet judges were doing - awarding Soviet players higher scores - Richter gave Cliburn a perfect score, and all the other contestants 0 points). Then, Gilels went so far as to approach Nikita Khrushchev and asked permission to award Cliburn first prize (remember, this is in the height of the Cold War, and Soviet propaganda meant everything). Khrushchev responded by asking Gilels if Cliburn was truly the best pianist - Gilels assured him that he was. "If that's the case," Khrushchev said, "then give him the prize!" This story is extremely famous and well-documented.
  6. I have always been amazed by the varied breadth of knowledge contained on this board, so I figured I would throw this one out there. My daughter has decided to take up the viola ( ), which I know nothing about. When perusing the various rental store programs, it seemed like I was buying a puppy. Essentially, all the stores sell puppies that are all cute and cuddly, but you don't know how the puppy's going to turn out, or how healthy it is, until long after the purchase. So who you buy the puppy from matters a great deal. So, now that I have made a horrible analogy, does anyone know of a music store in NoVA that rents good equipment and can properly fit a viola? Furthermore, can anyone suggest any superb pieces of viola performance for my daughter to listen to. Thanks in advance, Rocks feel free to move delete, etc (I checked the Professionals and Business section, FYI)
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