From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (1979) – Murray Lerner (legendas PT-BR)

very glad to be here i’m looking forward to this with great expectations but we’re here to meet the people as much as to play you know and it is less a concert tour than a how do you do it’s more how do you do in june 1979 isaac stern and his family visited china as guests of the government for three weeks at the special invitation of foreign minister huang hwa everywhere he traveled isaac stern found a warm reception for him and renewed interest in western music so so foreign china is an ancient as well as a young country we have an exceedingly rich cultural heritage yet we have just begun our new long march towards socialist modernizations we are confident that mr stern’s visit and performance in china we told me they are going out there for you we also will play an important role in enhancing friendship between the chinese and american musicians and people and promote artistic exchanges between the two countries we are both very interested mr golov and i to know how the chinese musician reacts to western music why they why they have a feeling for western music we had many chances to talk about music and to get to know each other at the american embassy with ambassador leonard woodcock and his wife and at many other receptions throughout our visit the chinese extended a most cordial welcome to me and to my family and to david golob the wonderful american pianist who was traveling with us mr golob is going to perform together with mr we were able to make contact with each other very quickly [Laughter]

no more autographs and formed many warm personal friendships but also your presence here will surely contribute to the furtherance of the cultural exchange between china and the united states and it further enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the chinese and american peoples for myself my family and mr golob we thank you for this wonderful world we have come here to meet with the chinese people to say hello through music and as musicians then friends [Applause] [Applause] so the easiest way for a person to learn about another country is to meet the professionals in one’s own field what this trip was never planned as a concert tour it was planned as a visit to meet with the people and to get to know something about china but i accepted an invitation to prepare a concert with the central philharmonic the major orchestra in peking conducted by lee de lune though it was rehearsal the hall was jammed with people who knew music [Applause] just yes all right but

but the second note must still be alive at the beginning of the rehearsals the musicians were a little stiff a little uncertain and more than a little wary [Applause] their approach to western classical music was somewhat limited they were not accustomed to playing with passion and variety of color [Applause] foreign they had an old-fashioned technical approach towards the manner in which they played their instruments but with an almost instant understanding and reaction to a given musical stimulus once they were shown what might be done hey they have not had the experience of living with western music for hundreds of years as we have well it is my view that mozart lived in an era when europe was transferring from the feudal society into the modern industrial society capitalism already began to grow in the society at the time when he left so he’s a great musician but uh because he already got rid of the feudalist society and entered into a new stage of social development which is a capitalism well i’m not sure that one could argue that the genius of of mozart had anything in particular to do with the development of the social or economic stage of life at that time [Applause]

when we came into each of the conservatories we began to hear an extraordinary level of talent [Applause] in peking they chose a number of students to play for us it was in front of an auditorium filled to the rafters with people interested in music we listen to students of various ages with varying talents i felt i could help best by encouraging them and also by giving them and their teachers a sense of musical direction okay thank you very much everyone here with that bow has done the same mistake they’re simply cutting off part of the equipment to play the violin i’ll play that yeah why don’t you wait still why don’t you use this part here it is like a the follow-through are wonderful sports people but you know if you make this gesture and stop you’re going to hurt something you can’t throw anything this way you go all the way yes all the way the same thing with the bow all the way it is a continuation so follow through like in ping pong goes up there hey stop now come here and sing the beginning for me just sing it you sing it that’s right go ahead don’t be afraid don’t be afraid don’t be afraid don’t be afraid now why don’t you play it this way you know did you hear what you did you sang but when you played it you played you see he one plays one things usually very naturally you must always listen as if you were hearing something very beautiful then you must figure out how to do it here so when you go now start it once more and play it as if you were singing it think ah good girl good girl good girl good girl that’s all right you see there’s a difference you understand for me the violin

must be part of the body so if there’s a cintiq like another arm and you hold it it’s simple i also have a little secret well xiaomi foam rubber it’s cold [Applause] and you can shape it to any size then you’re free to be flat or this way or that then you can control this on the violin is and play this way then it’s much more difficult than if you hold the violin this way and play on the violin it’s so much easier to do this no it’s too it’s too high flatten this flatten this that’s that’s really a thump here no hmm the listener must always hear exactly where the phrase goes all right go ahead no don’t that’s it good girl bravo [Applause] we were taken to a class of the peking opera a highly stylized tradition of presenting old myths and stories very romantic stories full of battles and heroes and heroines all accompanied by symbols guns flutes trumpets all played by what seemed to us virtuosi of their instruments because they could do anything with them very good very good you do it once more and it’s tuned naturally towards can i take one by one can i just one by one i just wanna foreign hey very good later we watched the students rehearsing some of the scenes from the peaking opera classical [Applause] repertory so [Applause]

[Applause] [Applause] oh [Applause] foreign [Applause] so oh [Applause] [Applause] so do uh [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] one night in guilin we went out on the town to a kind of vaudeville show it was a total delight and one of the happiest evenings we spent in china me [Applause] so

[Applause] do [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] so [Applause] [Applause] so um a short visit does not make one a china expert but it was evident that shanghai is the most cosmopolitan and in some ways the most western city in china you come upon surprising signs of western influence it hits america american hits hit western country music that’s very nice to hear sounds very nice at john denver crystal gale and fiji’s of course and a lot of the a dolly pattern there was also a feeling of openness and informality in shanghai that we associated with the atmosphere of a western city and as the center for most of the foreigners who came to china shanghai developed a tradition for western concert music the same problem would be everywhere what other pianos do they have in shanghai they consider this the best one they have i see which other ones do they have when we arrived in shanghai and we came to the hall to try the piano we found a piano that was in such bad condition that we really couldn’t consider using it for the concert this is the newest one

we were told that this was the best piano and in fact the only piano that was possible to use the felts on many of the hammers were so twisted and gnarled from the humidity that they weren’t even sufficient to stop the sound of the string on many of the notes the piano was literally unplayable that’s kind of weird and we had just come just a few days before from pey king and in peking there had been a new and very good uh hamburg steinway that we were able to bring into the hall and pay king and use and it had been very satisfactory so we thought is there a way the concert being of course the next evening but is there a way to have this piano brought down from taking to shanghai in other words an army truck picks up the piano there yeah an army vehicle an army airplane brings it here and an army truck meets the airplane here and brings it to you all the way and it’s the only way that it can be done how many people have no experience in handling this that’s why the piano tuner has to come along they should carry me that should carry a crew come on come here all right when we mentioned the possibility of bringing them that piano it not only meant with a great negative reaction but it met with some amount of apprehension so isaac mentioned the possibility of calling peking himself of maybe going directly to the government seeing if there was a way to expedite the moving of the piano so you you tell me what to do and i’ll wait here until you tell me the pleasures of touring this is a wild chance we’re taking it’s the only it’s the only reason it might work because it’s completely inconceivable the next morning when it became evident that we were intent on going through and doing everything we could to get that piano down from peking to the concert we were told that indeed there was another piano in shanghai at the radio station the piano was not certainly not a great instrument but it was usable a significant improvement upon what we had in the hall and we decided immediately that we would like to use the piano so during this whole incident with the piano in shanghai our concern was not merely to have a better instrument just for our own comfort but because we felt very strongly that this very discerning and eager chinese audience deserved to have an opportunity to hear our music under the best conditions we could possibly play it do do

do [Applause] [Applause] um you [Applause] you the audience in shanghai had a longer tradition of attendance at concerts and there was a kind of joyfulness that this was taking place one could feel it as a palpable force even during the performance there was a give and take between us as we were playing as they were listening i think it is a delight to have seen both the foreign minister and madame zunyatsen at a concert that we played we visited a local training center called the sports palace it was astonishing to watch this kind of intense let’s concentration that oh [Applause]

on the other hand they can’t play mozart the utter concentration in these young people the discipline of the movements all that we saw was evidence of organization and training from the very early stages just as they are highly trained and disciplined in their physical arts this whole attitude is carried into their work in musical education as well and we found this true when we visited the conservatory in shanghai my name is tainsfu chen and i am the deputy director of the shanghai khan secretary of music and i am a violinist and professor of bali in the conservatory for the little children we set up the primary school about 20 years ago then it was closed down at the beginning of the cultural revolution but we reopened it two years ago the students were selected in this way we announced in the newspaper places and time of auditions not only shanghai we sent teachers to many cities in the inland in the provinces and the competition is very very sharp we have to select one from every 40 applicants they arrive here at the age of 10 and they all live in the school we have a special building for them they’ll all live there and study one major instrument besides all the other subjects they’re very busy um [Applause] thank you me me

after the liberation in 1949 there were two opinions mainly one is that we don’t need foreign music we don’t need western music what we need is chinese traditional music we have to develop that and the other opinion is we have to develop chinese music but we also must study western music then we can select from them what we need to create our own music i think the exchange is beneficial for us foreign okay the party and the government has the intention to modernize our country in every aspect we have to study and know all about music in western countries to know it we have to play it to study just like my mouth said in his book that if you want to know the the taste of a pear you have to eat it otherwise you do know the taste i think that’s right for music we have to study everything as we can there’s not much chance to hear famous musicians during this last 10 years or more isaac stern’s visit to china has made a deep impression about the chinese musicians mr stern discovered when the all their students played beethoven or mozart or some things which are more delicate more sophisticated they don’t understand the music very much they just play the notes most of the students want to play something difficult everything must be fast loud noisy they think that if they can play something difficult and fast you can get a good job

everyone will get a job after graduation but some jobs are better than the others so everybody strives to play something difficult to solve that i’m the best player mr stern stressed more on music than on technique he emphasized that technical excellence alone is not enough the mind must be free to create what the composer had in mind see there must always be there must always be life every note there is not a single casual note in music there is not an on that every note has a reason you’re a very musical boy why don’t you do what your heart tells you to do what your ear tells you to do this you’re having a conversation you’re saying that’s you know it’s not just ah ah so so so so [Applause] so [Applause] so

[Applause] from what we have seen you have an extraordinary power in china available to you in your young people but both mr golov and i have reached the same conclusion all the way through from everything we’ve heard that the young people 8 9 10 11 remarkable but 17 18 19 20 21 something happens to them what happened in between well originally you know the graduates of the conservatory were all taken from the graduates of the primary and middle schools attached to the conservatory for instance miss tang yoon she was a graduate of the primary school of this conservatory before but when she reached the age of 18 or 19 there came to be the cultural revolution and the these activities these teachings were stopped you could see that many of the young people of 18 or 19 years old they have gone through this period and during that period nothing was taught and it’s a quite it was quite difficult for them to continue with their study so the level they yeah couldn’t even play the level a record of the classical music which is uh reactionary the crime the crime cultural revolution in their terms was an attempt to change the cultural format of the country into a closed inward-looking society that rejected any influence acceptance recognition of any foreign influence you know for them to reach such a level it’s already very difficult because they gone through such a difficult the period revolution started during the spring of 1966 all of a sudden in may the storm broke out i thought beethoven mozart western music i taught people to make violins those are the instruments belonging to the imperialists belonging to the foreign devils belong to the westerners it was like a bad dream like nightmare i was confined to a small room that’s not a room it’s a closet in the basement of the uh of the library just under the stairs it’s a small class without window without light went up with ventilation and there is a septic tank in the under the floor and the big pipe the refuse comes from the toilets through that pipe into the circuit tank and smells very badly i had to stay there for 14 months and for lack of because the lack of oxygen lack of air my legs were swollen i think the chief reason they did that to all the to all the all the professors and teachers is just to get rid of us because they want to to get power to get control of the conservatory and

to get control of the music but during a period i was not allowed to come out i had to stay in the dark room all the time somebody will send me something to eat i was allowed to come out for a few minutes every day to get the water to go to the toilet and once my my daughter came from picking she wants to see me and the red guard told me your daughter wants to see you but i already allow you only five minutes to talk with her and with his presence so it was in the evening he led me to a corner of the ball and i saw my daughter in the dark with a granddaughter of seven years when i saw my granddaughter my granddaughter called me grandfather i couldn’t restrain my tears because i was treated as a criminal sometimes we were treated treated as animals 10 of our teachers died of by suicide because they couldn’t stand the humiliation and torture especially the torture of the mind and the humiliation of course we were beaten were kicked and bitten in many ways but that’s i think that’s all right comparing with the humiliation we were treated as criminals because we taught them western music so oh [Applause] so

hmm i don’t pretend that i can predict for the future and nobody can but i think the cultural revolution of this kind of terrorism it will not happen again because people got wiser than before the apprehension is still there but i hope for the best i hope and i think the same thing will not happen again okay most playing of this kind see you later again forces the hand to put the pressure main pressure on this finger the first finger [Applause] but if you think of this the pressure being spread but the center is on this finger with this finger you cannot force the sound yeah so then you spread it so then then it really becomes like a paintbrush not driven into the fabric and then you can think that this is a sonata of the springtime that there’s a trinity the notes this goes to here and so beautiful it’s a mermaid now in order to be able to think this way even to start all this must be free to give you many colors against play with her please very good very good that’s exactly right the instrument is not that important it is only a means to an end in other words you don’t use music to play the violin you use the violin to play music dancing it’s

oh the line is more important than just playing one note after another um always something different this time you know a conductor one two three one a conductance i go one two three one two three one two three one two three one two three one two now possible understand day [Applause] open up every time you take up the instrument you are making a statement your statement and it must be a statement of faith that you believe this is the way you want to speak unless you feel that you must live with music that music can say more than words that music can mean more that without music we are not alive if you don’t feel all that don’t be a musician i hope that all of you students and teachers will understand what i’ve been trying to say if i have been critical it is only to share with you my faith my abiding belief in both music and young people and i believe between the two of them the world is a better place and if i have left that behind i’ll be

very grateful so [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] so so oh [Applause] about you