Monday, October 25, 2010

Interesting Bedfellows - Acknowledged Musicians and Movies...

I'm not much of a movie-goer; however, there are some movies out there with rather interesting combines of films and internationally recognized musicians.
Some examples:
The 1931 horror classic, "Dracula," based upon Bram Stoker's play out of London, was given a new injection of music in 1999, written by one of America's best-known composers of our day, Philip Glass, and performed by the Kronos Quartet, a group founded in America about a generation ago and known for its eclectic views. The new addition by Glass may not help the rather dated movie very much, but it is certainly an item of interest to those of us who walk upon musicological paths.
A masterful short play by Noel Coward was cast very beautifully into movie form in, I think, around 1945, and enhanced, not by music written for this movie, but by way of various sections of Rachmaninoff' 2nd piano concerto, and performed beautifully by one of England's stellar pianists, Eileen Joyce.
A movie called "Humoresque" was produced out of Hollywood, starring two powerful stars of the time, John Garfield and Joan Crawford, and wound around the story of a young and brilliant violinist, played by Garfield. In the title area of the movie, the name of the violinist who actually did the playing for the Garfield role was shown - a young and promising violinist - his name, Isaac Stern, soon to become one of the world's leading violinists.
A movie, coming out of the 1930's, titled, "They Shall Have Music," had a story line dealing with young people in the poorest section of town, seeking financial aid to better their lives through such shards of magic as Music. These youngsters happened upon a benefactor who agreed to aid them through his playing, in order to garner sufficient funds for the betterment of a community project. That benefactor was none other than a giant among the acclaimed violinists in the 20th century - yes, Jascha Heifetz himself, and I MEAN Jascha Heifetz himself, who actually takes his own part in the movie, and projects his magic in a movie that is less than distinguished.
Let's not forget that movie I once discussed in a previous blog, "Song to Remember-"
The story of Chopin, played by one Cornel Wilde, an actor with a physique around twice the mass of Chopin, who weighed in at around a hundred pounds - it was quite surreal, watching this Adonis, flexing his muscles at the piano, portraying a musician who was in poor health from childhood to his premature passing.
However, the piano music was provided for the movie by the legendary Spanish pianist Jose Iturbi. And because of the Iturbi addendum, I watched this movie as a child several times, willing time after time to endure the movie in order to hear the brilliance of Iturbi.
There are other examples under this aegis; however, I will bore you no longer.

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