The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (172): That moment

The scene from The Pianist when the fugutive plays Chopin to a German officer.

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  • A film made by a director with a serial history of sexual misconduct (this must be emphasised as there is so much discussion on this topic in this site).

    • Let’s cut to the bone of this matter:
      When discussing Haydn’s “Die Schöpfung”, would you first and foremost point out that this work celebrates the alleged Creation by an archaic and irate and brutal divinity with a proven record — from day one to the present — of serial violence, irrationality, intolerance, fostering racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children?

      I mean, this too must be emphasized, as there is so much discussion on this topic in this world.

      Or, we can choose to differentiate.
      To discuss the matters pertinent to art, in their context, and matters pertinent to misdeeds, in their context. And ponder very carefully when, and how, and if, the one impinges on the other.

    • Emphasising this fact only serves to unlease a million more comments. Yes he was a sexual predator and yes he was also a great film director, both of which have nothing to do with one another.

    • It’s based on the memoir of a real person, if I remember correctly. I wonder if this scene actually happened — real life is full of improbable scenarios.

  • Now for a real wartime story. This reminds me of the amusing scene in the Colditz story, when the German’s asked the prisoners if any were willing to work for the Reich. Lo and behold a Frenchman offers his services saying he would rather work for 20 Germans than one Frenchman. When asked for his occupation, he replied, undertaker. This really did happen in Colditz.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eeSYvxVFUw

  • The film the Password is Courage is based on the true story of senior NCO’s Sergeant-Major Charles Coward escape from Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf.

    During his incarceration as POW he managed to cause mayhem and severe damage to Third Reich logistics, setting fire to trains, swapping consignments of supplies to the front for useless alternatives and generally making the German’s lives hell. He even managed to con their own experts in order to obtain additional rations to bribe the goons about a supposedly new type of bomb site he “developed” at De Havilland’s! This was rewarded by additional fags and rations, however when his deception was revealed he was immediately transferred to another POW camp near Breslau, shortly afterwards the POW camp mysteriously burnt down!

    By accident he was awarded the Iron Cross when he was carted off in a stretcher to a Wehrmacht hospital. Later he ended up at an IG Farben factory, near Monowitz, from which he eventually managed to escape posing as a fireman.

    This is a rare film and worth watching, just for the amusing song lyrics, miles better than the Great Escape.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81egWpfE0HE

  • I thought this film was based on the story of Polish Jewish composer and musician Vladimir Szpilman.I thought it was fabulous when I first saw it and wouldn’t be adverse to watching it again. Sort of reminded me of Life is Beautiful.

  • The film the Password is Courage is based on the true story of senior NCO’s Sergeant-Major Charles Coward escape from Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf.

    During his incarceration as POW he managed to cause mayhem and severe damage to Third Reich logistics, setting fire to trains, swapping consignments of supplies to the front for useless alternatives and generally making the German’s lives hell. He even managed to con their own experts in order to obtain additional rations to bribe the goons about a supposedly new type of bomb site he “developed” at De Havilland’s! This was rewarded by additional cigarettes and rations, however when his deception was revealed he was immediately transferred to another POW camp near Breslau, shortly afterwards the POW camp mysteriously burnt down!

    By accident he was awarded the Iron Cross when he was carted off in a stretcher to a Wehrmacht hospital. Later he ended up at an IG Farben factory, near Monowitz, from which he eventually managed to escape posing as a fireman.

    This is a rare film and worth watching, just for the amusing song lyrics, miles better than the Great Escape.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81egWpfE0HE

  • A beautiful early nocturne, I think, published posthumously, and arranged by Milstein for violin and piano.

    There is a prehumous one, also in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 1, on troubled waters. Cortot is the man to play it. Its companion is an enharmonically twin-keyed Nocturne in D-flat, like an exploded John Field nocturne in B-flat. It’s a favorite of Rubinstein an Pollini, who often plays it as encore. Jphn Field was Irish, by the way., Chopin, Pollini, and Rubinstein not having the honor. Worse yet, Chopin wrote ecossaises but no reels or jigs. I have to look up strathspey if I’ve spelt it right.

    The director could compound his sins by using either of Pletnev’s two recordings, the earlier the better.

    God’s most glaring mistake was creating Light, then the Sun and Moon as after-thoughts a few days later,. Haydn works around this difficulty as best he can.

    • John Field came from Dublin he was a piano demonstrator for Clementi who treated him abominably. Subsequently Field left him and ended up in Russia. He played his nocturnes etc on a square piano mostly. Chopin did not write any jigs or reels or strathspeys. You must be thinking of James Scott Skinner, the Strathspey king. As an Irish trad fiddle player and composer, I admire his music.

      James Scott Skinner, Cradle song, Alistair Savage.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FglS1dYmgvM

  • Hola, Irisher, I knew you were, as you’ve mentioned it ere now a time or two, but I took your advice and played the ball, not the man, mon.

    John Field influrnced Chopin, wrote seven concertos. and sonatas that Chopin assigned his pupils John O’Connor recorded hem. Myra Hess and Denis Matthews recorded individual nocturnes, and I played one myself as a lad. Field was the first to write nocturnes for piano and call them that, tho notturni were known to Haydn, Moazart, and the Italians.

    Field settled in Paris after returning from Russia and died a sad death there, but then who does not? Your evangelical fervor for Skinner does you credit. Music owes much to folk fiddlers, my father was one, and the Norwegians. But now I’m wondering if you happen to know Beethoven’s “The pulse of an Irishman / Ever beats fasteer, &tc” for voice and piano trio, in his dodgy collection of Irish folk-song arrangements for a Scottish publisher? It’s a corker. Dyer Bennett made a record them.

    I’m looking into Skinner, but first I’ll just finish me cup of Irish coffee.

    • As an Irishman I find Beethoven’s folk songs funny, especially sung by a German! They are too “drawing room” style. They need an Irish singer like Ronnie Drew!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Txiv61s7eyw

      I have recently adopted a new way of fiddle playing instead of under the chin, I hold it against my chest, lower ribs, like in those old Dutch paintings of the 17th century. Some baroque players have started playing that way, the chin was only adopted later in the 18th century. The old way gives a grand resonant sound and allows one to drink a Guinness at the same time!

      I think the Hardanger fiddle might be played in this way also.

      The best John Field recording of the nocturnes and his concertos is the one on Chandos.

      John Field – The Complete Nocturnes
      Miceál O’Rourke (piano)

      Chandos

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcceTpBhMEE

      Yes the folk influence on composers is something which needs exploring, it is obvious in the music of Biber, Schmelzer, Marin Marais etc.

  • Forgetting the side stories that this film and its director can generate, I always think of this particular scene of the sensitive art loving Nazi as having a counterpart in one of my favorite movies (being a railroad fan) and one which is less “artsy” but still wonderfully performed and filmed, “The Train” directed by John Frankenheimer (although Arthur Penn directed some of it). Although an American film it was filmed in France and a huge number of French trains are destroyed — an entire rail yard and many locomotives, for real, no miniatures or animations — and it also features some remarkable French actors including Michel Simon, Jeanne Moreau, and Suzanne Flon as the museum director.

    The plot is somewhat fact based – a train full of looted French art is being sent to Germany at the orders and insistence (and one is led to believe, for the personal benefit0 of Nazi Colonel Franz von Waldheim, played by Paul Scofield. It would seem nearly the entire French railway personnel involved in running the train are part of the resistance, however, and the main hero is the French trainmaster Paul Labiche, played by Burt Lancaster. They first seek to just delay the train so that the Allies can destroy it, but then seek to save the train because of what it contains.

    The irony of the story is that none of these railroad men care about or are interested in the great French art beings stolen by the Nazi’s, and when the museum director (Suzanne Flon) asks Labiche and his resistance cell to stop the train, Labiche objects that she is asking him to waste his men’s lives over art, over French culture. Her knee jerk response is “oh but the lives wouldn’t be wasted” and then she falls silent when she sees the expressions on the faces of the very men she is likely asking to die (and many do die during the course of the film).

    At the end Labiche is able to derail the train without destroying the art, but the French hostages who were forced to ride the outside of the train to deter an Allied bombing attack are then brutally machine gunned down on orders of von Waldheim (Paul Scofield). Labiche is badly wounded and has a final confrontation with von Waldheim, who taunts him about what he has done and why.

    Here are the lines which I regard as the mirror or counterpart to that scene in The Pianist.

    “Labiche! Here’s your prize, Labiche. Some of the greatest paintings in the world. Does it please you, Labiche? Do you feel a sense of excitement at just being near them? A painting means as much to you as a string of pearls to an ape. You won by sheer luck. You stopped me without knowing what you were doing or why… Now, this minute, you couldn’t tell me why you did what you did. The paintings are mine. They always will be. Beauty belongs to the man who can appreciate it. They will always belong to me or a man like me.”

    At which point Labiche looks about at the crates labeled Picasso or Renoir or Monet, and at the bleeding bodies of the dead French hostages on the ground, and shoots von Waldheim dead. End of film.

  • Gare h cd Brun, good luck with your chest-held violin, and power to your elbow. Should give you a lovely voce di petto, and it’s how rebecs amd mediaeval viols were held and played, as you say, also recalling that violin playing has changed in recent times .. non-vibrato, &tc. i can’t imagine going through life with left arm in an unnatural position.

    Correction: Field died in Moscow, in 1837, not in Paris as I wrote earlier. I think he and Chopin met, or that Chopin heard him play, maybe in his decline and poor health, but am not sure. Field gave lessons to Glinka, which ties this high-jinxed hijacked thread to that of eight-year-old Daniil Trifonov playing Glinka’s beautiful Nocturne in F minor, “Le Separation”, which sounds a lot like Field.

    By the way,an orchestra calling itself the Dublin Philharmonic played at a local college some years back. I’d never heard of them. An Irish suite by Hamilton Harty was on their program. Charles Villiers Stanford wrote some good music, and everyone knows all the good English writers were Irish.

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