Monday, May 21, 2012

Some of the World's Great Performers in Partnership With Mediocrity...

As I recently watched an old movie called "They Shall Have Music," released, as I recall, in 1939, I was both captivated and bemused at the asymmetry caused by the role of a violinist saving an urban music school from fiscal ruin by performing on behalf of the school in a benefit concert. The individual playing the part of violinist was one Jascha Heifetz.
Which led me to thinking about other films utilizing the same route - the following are some of them:
"A Song to Remember" - the purported life of Frederic Chopin, played by a strapping ,muscular actor named Cornel Wilde, who HAD to have been a third larger than the great, but fragile composer.
"Carnegie Hall" - a saga connected to the goings on within the legendary concert hall. The story line had the intrinsic interest germane to the taste of wallpaper; however, a handful of music giants enhanced what otherwise one might label the production as pedestrian:
Walter Damrosch, Lily Pons, Artur Rubinstein, Bruno Walter, Jan Peerce, Artur Rodzinski, Rise Stevens - if you are not familiar with some of these names, do look them up.
"Humoresque" - the story of a gifted young violinist and his inner struggles as he climbs his particular ladder to either fame or ignominy. However, the violin playing is spectacular; and if one peruses the credit list at the beginning of this movie, one will discover the violinist hired to play the violin music - it is the name of an aspiring young violinist , Isaac Stern.
"Moonlight Sonata" - When I was a young child, my mother took me to see this film, which is centered around the rather disparate equation of a plane crash and a music icon. The script was rather definitely written around this icon, who did appear in the movie in actual performance not long before his passing. The icon: Ignace Jan Paderewski.
"Fantasia" - I could not hold back from offering this charmingly singular picture of Mickey Mouse clambering all over one of that period's most powerful musicians; namely, Leopold Stokowski.
Lastly, I need to emit a tiny squawk of discomfort when I think of a great musician, with whom I had a few lessons, cavorting in a group of musicals made for the movies. He certainly ran circles around any nightclub pianist who might have appeared in any of these films - his name; Jose Iturbi.
Oh, well -

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