Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at his death on December 5th, 1791. A completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem mass to commemorate the February 14 anniversary of his wife's death.

The Requiem was scored for 2 basset horns in F, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (alto, tenor & bass), timpani (2 drums), violins, viola and basso continuo (cello, double bass, and organ or harpsichord). The vocals include soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass soloists and a mixed choir. It was never known how much of this work was finished by Mozart before his death.

Here is a dramatization of this story by Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus that later was made into the 1984 movie of the same name, directed by Milos Forman. This movie won 8 Oscar awards.

This clip is at the very end of the movie and it is quite sad but it contains some seemingly educated dramatization of how composers compose their orchestral music... How much is real and how much is fiction? Only a real professional musician may be able to tell. But this is great movie and music making and editing. When you are down and tearful, this Requiem may cheer you up. It does me. Go get a CD for yourself.

Of the ten parts, Confutatis and Lacrimosa are featured and they are listed here for you to enjoy...


Confutatis maledictis,
When the damned are cast away

flammis acribus addictis,
and consigned to flames of woe,

voca me cum benedictis.
call me among the blessed.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Bowed down in supplication I beseech Thee,

cor contritum quasi cinis,
my heart as though ground to ashes

gere curam mei finis.
help me in my final hour.


Lacrimosa dies illa,
O this day full of tears,

qua resurget ex favilla
when from the ashes arises

judicandus homo reus.
guilty man to be judged:

Huic ergo parce Deus,
O Lord, have mercy upon him,

pie Jesu Domine,
gentle Lord Jesus,

dona eis requiem! Amen!
grant them eternal rest! Amen!

Watch until the very end of the clip... you may learn a few things by reading the end credits. The music you hear at the end is the second movement, Romance, of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, KV 446, by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, conducted by Neville Marriner. Unless you are French, you may think you hear a strange language during the second part of this clip. I noticed it too late and too lazy to redo this clip... but the dialogue is not very important in this movie anyway, right?


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Queen of the Night

It's hard to leave Bergman's Magic Flute without talking about the Queen of the Night aria, so here it is... while I still can get to it easily...

In act 2 of Mozart's Magic Flute, a particularly demanding aria, the Queen of the Night's "Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" ("The vengeance of Hell boils in my heart") reaches a high F6 note which is rarely found in opera. Mozart wrote this with his sister-in-law Josepha Hofer in mind, who premiered the role of the Queen of the Night and apparently she had no problem to reach the high notes. Guinness lists the highest demanding note in the classical repertoire as G6 (and Mozart does get there in his 'Popoli di Tessaglia'.) The Queen of the Night aria only gets to F6 at 1,397 Hz (about 88 Hz lower than G6.)

This movie is in Swedish and I did not bother with the subtitle. But if you must, here is what the Queen of the Night said in her aria, addressing her daughter princess Pamina, ordering her to kill her Dad Sarastro (Wow! This is so melodramatic:)

"Revenge and hate are raging in my bosom, with desperation, I am torn apart. You now must kill Sarastro to avenge me. Yes, kill him to avenge me or be disowned forever in my heart. Disowned by me forever you shall be....

You shall be disowned by me. Forever you shall be disowned by me.

Second verse...

You shall be plagued forever, cursed and renounced forever. I ruthlessly shall sever every bond between us both. I'll curse you forever. I shall sever every bond between us both. If by your hand Sarastro does not perish. God of vengeance, hear a mother's oath."
Queen of the Night

Magic Flute

I wanted to blog this Mozart overture for a long time. The original DVD of this movie is from the Criterion collection and it is stupidly protected by some strange encryption. It gave me a lot of grief to extract this clip. I bought this DVD a long time ago and finally can share it here so you can see a piece of work by a world renown movie director, a great cinema photographer and hear music by the one of a kind Mozart.

The Magic Flute (German: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue. The opera was premiered in Vienna on 30 September 1791, at the suburban Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden. Mozart conducted the orchestra himself so if you have seen the movie Amadeus, you know that it is quite faithful with this fact.

This clip is the overture of The Magic Flute (Swedish: Trollflöjten.) This is Ingmar Bergman's 1975 film version of Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte. It was intended as a television production and was first shown on Swedish television but was followed by a cinema release later that year. The film was shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition. The film is notable as the first made-for-television film with a stereo soundtrack.

Photography was by Sven Vilhem Nykvist (3 December 1922 – 20 September 2006) who was a Swedish cinematographer well known for his work in Bergman's films. He won Academy Awards for his work on two Bergman films, Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop) in 1973 and Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) in 1983, and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

As the overture begins, a close-up shot of the face of a young girl who was Ingmar Bergman's daughter fills the screen. Her face reminds me of La Joconde (Mona Lisa in case you do not know the alternate name of this famous painting) by Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci during the Renaissance. During the overture, Nykvist showed close-ups of a multitude of faces in the audience. Bergman's daughter reappears frequently. At the end, a portrait of Mozart himself is shown then the curtain rises and the opera begins. Unfortunately, I don't know which of Bergmans' daughter is seen here as he has several from different wives. He also fathered a secret daughter from an affair with a Swedish countess in the 1950s. If you know, leave a comment here.

Update: I was told by a savant secret admirer from afar that the young "La Joconde" in question here is by Liv Ullmann. I should have guessed... because Ullmann was clearly Bergman's favorite leading lady.


Friday, September 10, 2010


Wild Man Blues is a 1998 documentary film directed by Barbara Kopple, about the musical avocation of actor/director/stand up comedian Woody Allen. The film takes its name from a jazz composition sometimes attributed to Jelly Roll Morton and sometimes to Louis Armstrong and recorded by both (among others). Allen's love of early 20th century New Orleans music is depicted through his 1996 tour of Europe with his New Orleans Jazz Band. Allen has played clarinet with this band for over 25 years.

In this clip when his European tour was in Paris, on the way back to New York, Allen showed off his musical talent that I did not know he had, although I knew he had a jazz band. No wonder the music tracks of his movies all sound wonderful.

Although Allen's European tour is the film's primary focus, it was also notable as the first major public showcase for Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn. For this story, you need to learn more about Mia... or may be I will blog about it in the future here.


Sunday, September 05, 2010


This blog is selfishly made for myself. To avoid fumbling around looking for my DVD and play a very fine symphony orchestra, I blog this so I can get to it much easier and faster on line.

The Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in late 1786. It was premiered in Prague on January 19, 1787, a few weeks after Le nozze di Figaro opened there. It is popularly known as the Prague Symphony.

The Prague Symphony was scored for two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.

The work has three movements:

1. Adagio—Allegro, 4/4 (Sonata form)
2. Andante in G major, 6/8 (Sonata form)
3. Finale (Presto), 2/4

This performance was recorded from the Stefaniensaal, a concert hall famous for its perfect acoustics, in Graz, Austria. In the DVD, this symphony followed a performance by Cecilia Bartoli, the orchestra of Concentus Musicus Wien was conducted by Nikolas Harnoncourt.

Do you ever imagine how the individual musician belonging to a large symphony orchestra works? This video may give you a way to appreciate the seriousness and their importance to the beautiful music that you hear. As with all Mozart's Andante movements with usually immense sadness but wonderfully melodic undertone, I love this one and I do hope you do too. So, drop your hair, kick back, leave your worries outside and enjoy. After this symphony, Mozart composed his famous trilogy of symphonies 39, 40 and 41.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010


OK, here's the deal. I do not want to put off this any longer so here it goes... a classic "space strip tease" by none other than Hanoi Jane.

This is a very old 1968 Dino de Laurentis movie. If you don't know who that is, you are too young and need to look him up. This film is by Roger Vadim. The same remark above applies. Roger Vadim was an interesting French movie director. He loved to show his usually beautiful wives naked in his movies. Jane Fonda was his third "beautiful" wife and she stars here as Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy. This quite cheesy and at times funny movie received very high rating marks.

After watching this clip, you have to take a test: Who is the producer? Who is the director? Who wrote the music? Who are the co-stars? You missed all that? What were you watching? You were supposed to focus on the stylized text on the screen and nothing else! You failed the test! Watch it again and pay attention the next time, please!


Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Wolf

I like Quentin Tarantino's work. Pulp Fiction is perhaps his most well known movie. In any case, I'll let you be the judge about his work. Be warned, the language in this clip may be offensive for some of you. There are many good reasons why it was rated "R." I think the writing is so ... talented. You really need to watch this movie to truly enjoy this clip.

Pulp Fiction

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guido's Muse

Fellini's classic Eight and a Half begins unconventionally but breathtakingly hypnotic. It may take several viewings to begin appreciating the work of this master. This clip is at the very beginning of the movie when the movie director is getting treatment in a health spa where he gets the first vision of his muse Claudia. In Nine, the muse is Nicole Kidman. As can be seen in this clip and throughout this movie and many others of Fellini, religious undertone is quite prevalent.


Asa Nisi Masa

To give Eight and a Half equal time, this clip is one key scene of Fellini's famous movie. The title is the "magic spell" cited by the little girl. According to some account, the children of Italy play a game of word, adding "sa," and "si" alternately to fragments of a word to form secret messages. Here, the word is Anima, for "soul," thus the secret spell "Asa NIsi MAsa" that Guido was projecting to the mind reader. Sort of Felliniesque telepathy. This is my favorite scene. There is another one that introduces Guido's muse... coming soon...

Asa Nisi Masa

Monday, May 24, 2010

Musical Italiano

OK, this is my last clip for Nine, then I'll move onto something else... may be Chicago? Hmmm...? I'm not sure what this scene is about as it does not seem to have any relationship with Eight and a Half. But the novel black and white intermixed with color shooting, and the energetic dancing are mesmerizing. Where do the dancers get all the energy? My final verdict: Nine is no Eight and a Half.


A Call from the Vatican

The earlier clip about Saraghina in Nine was "Ti Voglio Bene/Be Italian." While I have this video at hand, I might as well finish what I wanted to do: comparing Nine and Eight and a Half. This one is "A Call from the Vatican" where Carla/Penelope Cruz who is Guido's mistress shows the hot for him. Nine is Eight and a Half plus a Half which is the music. Got it?

Rob Marshall directed the movie Chicago in 2002, and that was a great musical. Nine, his next musical gets less enthusiastic reviews, but I think the song and dance choreography are quite good. I can't really say the same thing about Cruz' singing talent, but you've got to admit that she's quite hot. She's got the nomination for best supporting actress in this role. You be the judge.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sheryl Crow

I'm on a rare roll, so I am forging ahead with some of the clips I wanted to put here but could not get to them... until now. It is not so simple to extract clips from a long video and make them stream on the internet. I don't know how the others post their clips on Youtube, but it is quite a bit of work for me, and this clip is worth it.

It is from the movie DeLovely, telling the life of American music composer Cole Porter (1891–1964.)

"Begin the Beguine" is one of his work that is so famous and well-liked that any notable singer must include it in his or her repertoire. Porter composed the song at the piano in the bar of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. In October 1935, it was introduced by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee produced at the Imperial Theatre in New York City.

So, because it is so famous, you can find this tune played and sung by every band, and every singer, but I think Sheryl Crow by far gave the best performance in this movie. The song in this clip is edited to be shorter than its longer version that is more than 4 minutes. The last refrain, whose lyric sounds a bit cheesy to me, is left out, so this is just perfect. Enjoy!

Sheryl Crow

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saraghina - 8½

Because I already was committed and showed you the 2009 version of Saraghina, I feel obligated to also show you, for comparison, its genesis: Federico Fellini's 8½.. For those of you who are not old enough to know and appreciate, 8½ (pronounced Otto e mezzo in Italian) is a 1963 film directed by Italian director Federico Fellini. Co-scripted by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, and Brunello Rondi, it stars Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian film director. Shot in black-and-white by cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo, the film features a soundtrack by Nino Rota with costume and set designs by Piero Gherardi.

The film's title refers to 8½ being Fellini's eighth and a half film as a director. His previous directorial work consisted of six features, two short segments, and a collaboration with another director, Alberto Lattuada, the latter three productions accounting for a "half" film each.

This clip is about 1 hour into the movie, introducing Saraghina. If you pay attention, Marcello Mastroianni's glimpse of a large woman descending a slope precipitated him back into his childhood and a memorable encounter with Saraghina.

8½ won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white). Acknowledged as a highly influential classic, it was ranked 3rd best film of all time in a 2002 poll of film directors conducted by the British Film Institute.

What do you think? You like better Nine, or 8½? I think it's a slam dunk for the older master of the 60s. I love Nino Rota's music in films, such as in this clip. Haunting and it stays with you.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Saraghina - Nine

Nine is a musical based on a book by Arthur Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The story is based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½. It focuses on film director Guido Contini, savoring his most recent (and greatest) success but dreading his imminent 40th birthday and a midlife crisis blocking his creative impulses and entangling him in a web of romantic difficulties in early 1960s Venice.

The original Broadway production opened in 1982 and ran for 729 performances, starring Raul Julia. The musical won five Tony Awards, including best musical, and has enjoyed a number of revivals. One of which is Nine, a 2009 American/Italian musical film directed and produced by Rob Marshall. The screenplay of this film is by Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella. Maury Yeston composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the songs.

The 2009 Nine premiered in London and was released in the United States on December 18, 2009, in New York City and Los Angeles, with a wide release on December 25, 2009.

Despite mixed to negative reviews, Nine was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress (Penélope Cruz who gave a really hot show stopper in the movie... you wanna see it?), Best Art Direction (John Myhre (AD), Gordon Sim (SD)), Best Costume Design (Colleen Atwood) and Best Original Song ("Take It All" Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston.)

To fully appreciate this movie, you must know Fellini's Eight and a Half well. Many of Fellini's movies cast women of dubious appearance and characters. They are usually large and voluminous. In Eight and a Half, one such character is Saraghina, who fascinated the kids living nearby her beachfront adobe. Nine did not follow that tradition in that the 2009 Saraghina is as sexy as sexy can be... but you can see the sand from the original Fellini's beach scene. Watch how young Guido is punished after being caught red handed in his fascination with the forbidden Italian fruit.

Should I show you next the original Saraghina of Eight and a Half? Come back here... give me a little bit of time...


Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Brand New Angel

Hello blog.... I can't believe one year has gone by... and this blog has been completely neglected. I have too many excuses, but ... who cares. I am now ready to go again anew. Here is a short clip from a recently released Oscar winner. In general, I do not like country music, but this clip changed my mind a bit. Jeff Bridges sings and acts all the way to earn his 2010 best actor Oscar award. You be the judge after you go see the movie Crazy Heart. Many complain that he mumbled the words he sings, and I agree. I had to look up the lyrics of this song to know exactly what he is singing about. I think it's about someone who died and went to heaven, if there is such a place, a rather sad song. The lyric? Here they are:

Well it rained last night
and the stars shone bright
and way off yonder
we heard the whippoorwill.

At the first light of dawn
we heard that he was gone.
Our hearts were empty
and our eyes were filled.

Open the gates;
welcome him in.
There's a brand new angel,
a brand new angel
with an old violin.

In music we heard
all the songs of the birds.
And he said that some songs
are like clear fall days.

But he played his last refrain
oh but the song will remain.
Though he's put his bow down
and closed his case.

Open the gates;
welcome him in.
'Cause there's a brand new angel,
there's a brand new angel
with an old violin.

In this clip, only half of the song made it to the movie. If you are interested in listening to the entire song, click on the "Play" button below:

And here's the clip. Click on it to see the video that is about 3 minutes long for half of the song.

Brand New Angel