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From Mao to Mozart

1979, Performing Arts  -   9 Comments
Ratings: 6.50/10 from 4 users.

From Mao to MozartMurray Lerner's Oscar-winning film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China chronicles with affection and intelligence the great violinist's 1979 visit to China.

Stern had accepted the government's invitation to attend a rehearsal and give one recital but instead wound up playing a formal concert, touring two cities, and teaching many master classes due to his overwhelming love for music and even more so for the musicians he met, some as young as 10.

Communicating his instructions less through the translator than his energetically gleeful gestures and plosive vocalizations, Stern offers a wealth of technical tips, bowing techniques, and motivational nuggets that all boil down to one theme: don't play the music, live it.

Not every moment is joyous; filmed shortly after the final dismantling of the Cultural Revolution, From Mao to Mozart offers a brief but harrowing portrait of Tan Shuzhen, a violinmaker imprisoned for over a year for the crime of crafting Western instruments.

But after this remembrance of the past, the movie ends as it should, eyes and ears on the future, as adolescent cellist Wang Jian serenades the appreciative audience.

A fascinating postscript, Musical Encounters, follows Stern's return to Beijing two decades later and catches up with Wang, now a successful recording artist, as well as others from the original film.

Especially heartening is conductor Li Delun, wheeled onto the stage but still magisterial as he reteams with Stern to once again perform Mozart's Concerto in G; and through the music, two men raised a world apart who have met only twice in their lives are again made the best of friends.

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. esmuziq

    thx guys !!!!!

    im gonna sample this instrument

    when played correct it touches such a deep emotional chord i cannot explain

  2. ProudinUS


    Therare 5 different styles of lutes.
    1 Pipa, as Waldo pointed out
    2 Liuqin
    3 sanxian
    4 ruan
    5 yuegin

  3. Waldo

    @ esmuziq
    Here is some more info on it, if you are interested.

    The pipa (??) is a plucked Chinese string instrument. Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body. It has been played for nearly two thousand years in China. The modern pipa has four strings and 29 or 30 frets based on the 12-tone equal temperament scale, with all the intervals being semitones. The traditional 16 fret pipa is becoming less common, although it is still used in some regional styles.

  4. Waldo

    @ esmuziq

    Its called a Pipa.

  5. ProudinUS


    I think it is called a Lute. tere are several different styles. I'm sorry I misspelled your thread name the first time.

  6. ProudinUS


    I think it is called a Lute.There're several different styles.

  7. esmuziq

    26 : 20 , can someone please tell me what instrument this is
    i love this vibe it brings

  8. Waldo

    I challenge any musician out there to watch this and not pick up your instrument. I missed my American lit. class this morning because I made the mistake of turning on this beautiful documentary. I have been playing through all the jazz scales I know for like three hours now, gotta go to school. Wonderful documentary about cultural exchange and musical passion.

  9. John D

    Wow. Great doc - thanks Vlatko!