Tag Archives: music

The Romantic Life and Tragedy: Robert Schumann

A documentary on the romantic life and times of the German composer Robert Schumann.

Its a two part documentary, on the early life of Robert Schumann when he learnt piano at the age of 5 and started composing at the age of 7. A scholarly kind he also wrote novels and published a music magazine. Robert started studying music with Frederik Weick a piano teacher and fell in love with his young daughter, Clara.

After an injury to his right hand, he concentrated on writing music. The documentary subsequently prevails upon his love affair with Clara and the fighter with her father to secure her hand. His musical career flourished after his marriage and he became an acclaimed composer.

The last part of the documentary deals with his mental illness, his incarceration at a private asylum and his death from that illness. The documentary was a talking one, with few images thrown in and some dialogues muttered in between.

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The Harvest of Sorrow

Brilliant documentary on Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), the Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. It traces his life and times and his musical journey from Russia to when the family had to flee Russian due to the Russian revolution and take refuge in Stockholm and later in US. Throughout, Sergei pined for his beloved Russia and could never adjust to a life outside his motherland, though he had the comforts and lifestyle to afford. He had composed a total of 3 symphonies, five works for piano and orchestra, piano solo, orchestra solo, operas, choral works, chamber music, quite a prodigious output. His Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 3rd symphony, No. 2 in C#minor, 2nd concerto, 3rd concerto, Aleko the opera, are all sublime music. There is beauty in his music, but at the same time a certain kind of fiery in it, a kind of haunting, sad melody in it. Apparently Tchaikovsky’s influence is there in his music. The documentary is told in first person and there are numerous photographs and some videos as well all beautifully juxtaposed with his various musical pieces, all very well done. Beautiful documentary to watch. I watched it here on youtube.

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Guitar Man

Guitar Man by Will Hodgkinson is an autobiographical journey of a 30s Britisher to learn guitar having virtually no musical brain at all since his birth. But it turns out to be delightful journey of the guitar itself. Will delves into the history of the guitar taking us to its roots. Enroute he takes us through some of the musical greats who have played guitar and he interviews a few of them and travels to US to delve into the Nashville blues, Memphis rock & roll, Mississippi delta blues all the way taking some lessons or two from the guitar masters, many of them reclusive ones. First up is an intro to Davey Graham who seems to be an iconical guitar player and his composition “Anji” is certainly one up at the top. Davey influenced guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton among others. When i listened to Anji it certainly inspired me, it is apparently a difficult piece of composition and many seasoned guitarists have tried to play it without any success.  Being a lifelong music fan especially of the blues, this book resonates very much with me. Blues is one genre i love very much and it is one genre that has not died down the ages. Will’s narrative is fluid, easy going laced with humour, having to navigate learning guitar and form a band of sorts, take care of his wife and kids as well. Highly likeable book for those who like music and the blues. Goodreads 5/5

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Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

Brilliant documentary on Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the doyen of Hindustani Classic Music in India. It traces his history when he was a young kid to the various stages of development of music in him. There are scintillating live performances in the documentary including some of my favorite compositions of the Panditji, besides many ragas which Pandit has sung for the film. Panditji belonged to Kirana gharana of Hindustani classical music which had Smt. Gangubai Hangal as its famous exponent. Pandit stayed with Sawai Gandharwa in the guru shishya parampara and started organising the Sawai Gandharwa Music Festival in Pune in honour of his guru. Highly recommended viewing for all the connoisseurs of Hindustani music.

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