Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Isaac Stern In China: From Mao To Mozart (1980)

Universal Music

A clip from Isaac Stern’s three-week cultural visit to China in June 1979 is shown here in the documentary, From Mao to Mozart. A Wikipedia entry on this trip and subsequent documentary, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (1980), gives the following basic information:
From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China is a 1980 documentary film about Western culture breaking into China produced and directed by Murray Lerner. It portrays the famous violinist and music teacher Isaac Stern as the first American musician to collaborate with the China Central Symphony Society (Now China National Symphony Orchestra). The film documented Mr. Stern's rehearsals and performances of Mozart and Brahms violin concertos with the famous Chinese conductor Li Delun, who also acted as his guide and translator on his trip. The film also included footage of Mr. Stern's visit to the Central Conservatory of Music and Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he lectured to the Chinese music students on violin playing and the art of musical expression.
From Mao To Mozart: Isaac Stern in China
Source: Wikipedia
The documentary is an early look into the period in China after the death of Mao;  China’s leader then was Deng Xiaoping, who helped usher in an age of market reform and a renewed interest in western music. This documentary, a look at a particular and important period in history, shows how music can always act as a bridge between various peoples and their cultures.


  1. In 1984, a young faculty member at Hebei University knocked on my door and said, in Chinese, "Give me piano lessons."
    "I have never taught piano," I said.
    "Try," he said. I did. It was quite difficult because of the language barrier, but he was a wonderful student. When I visited China again in 1989, he had gotten a new piano, a Belarus, from the Soviet Union. I gave him lessons again, and learned quickly and very well.
    Had there not been a totalitarian regime under Mao, he probably would have started taking lessons as a child and become a world-famous star. Had Mao not died, he never would have seen a piano at all.
    Dictators always forbid some or all music.

    1. Music is universal, and it will not be denied. After Mao, things improved in China.


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