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  • From Mao to Mozart - Isaac Stern in China [VHS]
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From Mao to Mozart - Isaac Stern in China [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Isaac Stern, David Golub, Ching-Ling Soong, Leonard Woodcock
  • Directors: Murray Lerner
  • Producers: Murray Lerner, Walter Scheuer
  • Format: Color, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: New Video Group
  • VHS Release Date: February 27, 2001
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000524F6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,707 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In 1979, as China re-opened its doors to the West, virtuoso Isaac Stern received an unprecedented invitation from its governernment to tour the country. This extraordinary experience became the landmark, Oscar-winning documentary FROM MAO TO MOZART--a be

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Murray 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. --Bruce Reid

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 48 customer reviews
He encourages the players he meets and especially the young musicians and finds them very responsive.
Mary Helen Evans
He truly is a delightful man and his abilities to express and transmit his passion for music is captivating.
rodboomboom
A musician should have this DVD and I also recommend the other Isaac Stern DVD that is a bio of his life.
Faddle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Christopher L. Lee on February 14, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I saw the original video production of "From Mao to Mozart" 20 years ago as a graduate student in Music. I was stunned! Insightful musical instruction, excellent segues of countryside, people, culture, cities.... I vividly remembered scenes from movie...and was thrilled to see them again when PBS aired the new release in mid-Feb, 2001. It spoke to me both as an Asian and as a musician all the more.
Stern's admonitions and instructions continue to add to my musical life. His advice is timeless and worth considering at all points of a musician's life. While technique is basic and necessary, expression is everything--and to carry this torch to future generations is the legacy of this video.
The scenes from China: I appreciated the transitions and poignancy all the more after 20 years. Many of the scenes were buried in my memories. I didn't know from where I had picked up those images, but when I saw this reprise of the movie, there they were! Such is the strength of this documentary. Stern's return in 1999 is less compelling. He seems a bit more impatient and the footage does not include much by the translators--an important facet of understanding the cultural differences. Maybe it's because in 1999 the musicians speak English. Maybe it's because the film's editor(s) chose to omit the translations. We'll never know.
Quite interesting is the footage of various musicians who met Stern 20 years ago and then appear and perform in 1999. Very strong musicians with vivid memories of their encounters! And their performances are excellent, full, rich, expressive!
Another interesting facet is Stern's son, David, who also visited 20 years ago and now appears as the guest conductor in the 1999 footage. His comments and conducting are insightful.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 2002
Format: DVD
This movie has opened my eyes and got a new perspective in playing violin. I'm most inspired by Isaac Stern's saying "there's a life in every note", and he had successfully demonstrated what he meant by that. He made the little girl sang the music out loud for the piece that she was playing, and after that she really played it much better and you could feel a life in it. For all the amateur violinists that don't have a chance to meet with the best violinists in master classes, this is truly a very good teaching material to inspire your playing. It's also very touching to see the 3 musicians joined Isaac after 20 years and see how they have grown in music. I especially like little Jian Wang's performance at the end of the first part of the movie (the part that filmed in 1979).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. Rockwell on January 1, 2003
Format: DVD
I received this DVD for Christmas (thanks to the wish list!) and I found it to be wonderful on many levels. First of all there is Stern's fine playing but this is only a part. There is also the warm interaction between Stern and the eager people of a newly opened China. Stern's engaging personality itself is also enjoyable and his wisdom about music and people is refreshing. This man obviously enjoys life and is very open to all kinds of people, activities and experiences. The film also provides a glimpse into the culture of China that was enlightening including the cultural revolution. The movie has depth and richness. I think most people seeing this movie would feel it was time well spent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Helen Evans on February 2, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
this DVD is excellent for anyone interested in classical music. Issac Stern visits China in the mid 1970's and finds western music is played but not with feeling. He encourages the players he meets and especially the young musicians and finds them very responsive. He revisits 20 years later and hears what happened to music professors during the cultural revolution. He meets again the young players he'd inspired and finds they have successful careers and remember his former visit with gratiude. I wish we had more DVD's of this type.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 9, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
We recently had a wonderful privilege to hear Jian Wang perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where became aware also of this video.
Truly captivating is the trip of Mr. Stern to China and his involvement there with the musicians and the people. He truly is a delightful man and his abilities to express and transmit his passion for music is captivating.
There are too many poignant scenes to recall, but the additional offerings here on this special DVD are truly bonus! The return trip after twenty years and the interview with Tan are magnificent and touching.
Luther had it right: next to the Word of God nothing is as powerful as music --- good music. It's universal and across time and cultures.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BLee on October 18, 2003
Format: DVD
Indeed, as he said, he used "music as his passport to go to China", and it's not a "concert tour", but a "how-do-you-do-trip".
This Maestro's musical power superb, his linguistic power and his power in communication is also superb.
For the music students, particularly the beginners, the Maestro's remarks followed by forceful illustrative demonstrations are just invaluable. Here we are shown tricks as how one may combat with the hard violin on one's shoulder; how to hold it best, and the bow too so that you can get a full and colourful sound etc etc...
Remarks as weighty as general principles are abundant: music is important to a civilized community; every note in the score has a meaning; the lines are more important than notes; play the music as though you're composing it; there is life in music, not just notes; there are so many ways of playing the same note-- here, express it as though you are saying something special to your lover; play it like how you would sing it; the violinis not important, it's just the means and the end is communication... There are equally abundant remarks and demonstrations on rhythm and phrasings along with other expressions in music, all invaluable to most music students and they are particularly targeted at the Chinese students.
Furthermore, we have quite a few invaluable clips of top Chinese musicians, playing 20 years ago when they were small, and then 20 years later when they are matured/maturing, even in the eyes of the world class elites ...
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