The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, Directed by Billy Wilder, 1970

I have a lot of toasty warm affection for this underrated movie (which I saw second-run in Minneapolis the summer before I started music school), not least because of Hungarian-born Miklos Rozsa‘s score, which he based on his Violin Concerto op. 24, and on which I’ve based my story, The Rosza Concerto.

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Robert Stephens as the great detective and Genevieve Page as his latest client. Yes, that’s Sherlock Holmes embracing a beautiful, nude, warm and willing woman while attempting to keep his cool.

This is Austrian-born Wilder and Romanian-born Diamond at their best, examining—through impish Hollywood eyes, of course—that weird combination of emotional reticence and superciliousness that makes English men just sooo attractive. Their great detective, however, turns out in the end (not to give anything away) to be a lonely man, unsophisticated, profoundly vulnerable, and something of a loser. Stephens’ highly original performance makes this my favorite Holmes of all.

Here’s the trailer from the latest theatrical re-release of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It’s also now on Amazon Prime in entirety.

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Andre Rieu and The Johann Strauss Orchestra Come Home to Maastricht, 2018

This is what I’ve been waiting for since last summer: a vidcomp of the complete annual summer concert of the greatest festival orchestra in the world, The Johann Strauss Orchestra, led by Andre Rieu, in the town square called Vrijthof in their home town of Maastricht, The Netherlands, 7 July 2018.

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From their rousing entrance to the tune of “76 Trombones” by Meredith Willson (that’s two l’s, thank you) to their invariable sign-off pieces: the Maastricht city anthem; Strauss Sr’s “Radetsky March”; “An der schönen blauen Donau” op. 314 (of course!); Shostakovich’s Jazz Waltz No. 2; “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (from “Plaisir d’amour” by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini, 1784); Austrian composer Robert Stoltz’s “Adieu, mein kleiner gardeoffizier”; and the Rocco Granata standard “Marina” (which I used to hear every year at the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, NYC), there’s two hours here of sheer delight, drinking and dancing. It’s always a special afternoon when I get to play the entire Maastricht concerts for me and Mister Grumble, I open a bottle and dance around the room and he just grins and drinks. Will write down the whole playlist one of these days.

William Walton Conducts His Viola Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra, Frederick Riddle, 1937

The Viola Concerto by William Walton was written in 1929 for the violist Lionel Tertis at the suggestion of Sir Thomas Beecham; Tertis however rejected the piece, and composer/violist/teacher Paul Hindemith gave the first performance. The work was greeted with enthusiasm and brought Lancashire-born Walton to the forefront of British classical music.

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In February 2017 my beloved John Wilson conducted the London-based Philharmonia Orchestra in a rendition of the Concert with Canadian-born violist Lawrence Power. 

Paris Trout with Dennis Hopper and Barbara Hershey, Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, 1991

paris trout

Search the term “bottle+rape+scene+dennis+hopper” and you’ll likely be sent to this film, Steve’s second feature directorial effort (at 42, he’s 69 now) and Hopper’s purportedly favorite role. Bottle rape at 42:00. There’s a creepy, dreamy, nasty edge in almost all the sex scenes of Steve’s movies… If we were still talking I would probably bring it up, but as his mind is gone—shockingly, dismayingly gone—it’d be pretty pointless.

“Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell, Played by Valentina Lisitsa with the BBC Concert Orchestra Conducted by Keith Lockhart, BBC Proms 2013

Warsaw Concerto Lisitsa Lockhart 2013
I love watching how Lockhart, official Guest Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, scrupulously keeps in sync with not just his orchestra but with his soloist. Also, it’s a delight to watch at the beginning of the clip Lisitsa curtsying almost shyly to leader Cynthia Fleming.

Valentina Lisitsa, who started out as a YouTube sensation 12 years ago and is now counted as one of the foremost keyboard interpreters of the Eastern European Romantics, gives an intensely satisfying performance here of Addinsell’s “Warsaw Concerto”. The Concerto was written for the movies—for, specifically, the 1941 movie Dangerous Moonlight, in which Polish concert pianist Anton Walbrook becomes a fighter pilot for the RAF, falls in love, gets amnesia, and composes some music. The movie, although a success from a propaganda viewpoint, was considered a potboiler by critics, and even the astute Anthony Burgess, who was an army sergeant and nascent composer himself at the time, looked down on the “Warsaw Concerto” as a cheap imitation of Rachmaninoff. Intellectual snobs have derided the piece, but it’s lingered in the memory for lo these many years, and is only now taking its permanent place in the classical repertoire.

For that we have to thank composer/film music restorer Philip Lane. It was to Lane that the musical estate of Richard Addinsell was entrusted and, like composer/orchestrator William David Brohn (for Prokoviev’s Alexander Nevsky) and my beloved John Wilson, Lane took on the task of reconstructing by ear written scores for film music whose manuscripts had been destroyed through carelessness or war. Addinsell’s “Warsaw Concerto” was one of them. As Lane writes:

“The process of reconstruction does not get easier, but some films are more difficult than others. The biggest enemy is the combination of dialogue and sound effects over the music, and occasionally there are seconds of complete inaudibility when guesswork has to replace authenticity. The greater the composer, the more difficult the work, on the whole, since the melodic and harmonic language tends to be more adventurous. In the case of recent scores there are usually soundtrack CDs devoid of extraneous sounds to work from, but despite the change in status of film music, present day composers still mislay their scores. I have reconstructed music by Jerry Goldsmith, Randy Edelman and James Horner in the last year alone. If the composers are still alive I obviously encourage them to do the reconstruction themselves. So far, they have declined for various reasons.”

The Police Perform Ghost In the Machine at the International Stadium, Gateshead, 31 July 1982

If I hadn’t fallen so fierce hard for Geordie-born-and-bred orchestral conductor John Wilson I’d never have been delving into All Things Gateshead and I never would have found a (Seoul-based bootleg) recording of this show, which was the very show Mister Grumble and I missed in New York when I was heavily pregnant. Great music, great energy, and it was touching to catch a (private?) glance at Sting—another Geordie, by the way—crossing himself before taking the stage. The sound is impeccable.

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For more on The Police’s drummer, go to my posting below, “The Equalizer Theme by Stewart Copeland“.

John Wilson Conducts The JWO in a Big Band Swingin’ Symphonic Medley, BBC2, Christmas Day 2010

Shimmy alert at 6:26. Whoever would stifle that shimmy in years to come, my bonny, would stifle your spirit.

John Wilson Big Band

Excerpts by composer and band: “Skyliner” – Barnet / Charlie Barnet; “Take the A Train” – Billy Strayhorn and vocalist Joya Sherrill / Duke Ellington; “Let’s Dance” – Gregory Stone (based on von Weber’s “Invitation to the Dance”, orchestrated by Hector Berlioz) / Benny Goodman; “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Irving Berlin / Ray Noble; “Begin the Beguine” – Cole Porter / Artie Shaw; “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” – Ned Washington and George Bassman / Tommy Dorsey; “Midnight Sun” – Hampton and Sonny Burke / Lionel Hampton; “You Made Me Love You” – Monaco and McCarthy / Harry James; “Moonlight Serenade” – Miller / Glenn Miller; “Peanut Vendor” – Moisés Simons / Stan Kenton; “Woodchoppers Ball” – Joe Bishop / Woody Herman; “One O’Clock Jump” – Count Basie / Count Basie. Orchestral arrangement by composer Andrew Cottee.

Didn’t work at ASCAP for nothing…