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The importance of the poetic instinct


Filming Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein playing Mahler
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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The film about Ozawa- a different pianist. Rudolph Serkin also is well recognized for his genius. He and Ozawa. I remember- one thing that I like so much about what I did in the photography; in the opening scene I filmed the opening movement of the famous Mahler Resurrection Symphony- the Symphony Number Two. And we hadn't thought of filming the opening movement until almost finished with the film. And so as an after-thought, we thought- well, there's a hole in the wall behind the orchestra, if I got behind that hole in the wall I could film directly into Ozawa's face and could film him conducting as he's looking right at the camera whether, whether he was or not. And so with a telephoto lens, and behind that little hole in the wall I got a wonderful close up of him and his conducting. But that wasn't enough because with my left eye I roamed the people in the audience and I saw in the front rows two people, two men, who were just eating up this music. And, and, and as they were connected with one another, as they were responding so beautifully, so lovingly, to the music, I got a bit of them as I panned over to them, and then just at the right moment, with a very graceful movement with Ozawa's hands, I returned to Ozawa to complete the, the movement. That little reaction shot which was part of the scene itself, a part that didn't have to be manipulated by an editor, you know- that whole movement is just so well depicted. And I've made films with my brother, a couple of them, of the Mahler Symphony. On another occasion when Leonard Bernstein went to Israel, just three weeks after the '67 war, we accompanied him; we made a film of the audition- journey: it was called "Journey to Jerusalem". And he went with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, performed in Tel Aviv, and then also performed in an open kind of amphitheater in Mount Scopus looking, looking over the Dead Sea. And, what was I going to say? Oh. And, and of course- and what did he perform? The Mahler Symphony.

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) known for his important documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, pioneered the documentary style known as Direct Cinema. He helped create techniques still widely used in modern documentary production, as well as many of the techniques used in reality TV.

Listeners: Rebekah Maysles Tamara Tracz Sara Maysles

Rebekah Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is an artist living between New York and Philadelphia. She has her own line of clothing, Blackberryrose, and co-runs the store Sodafine in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, a vintage and handmade store that sells clothing, books and other products made by artists.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Sara Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is currently doing her BA in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and working as an Archivist of the photographs and photographic material at Maysles Films Inc., Albert‚s film production company. She spent ten months out of two years working with Tibetan refugees at a center in Nepal, and continues to travel back and forth between America and Asia.

Tags: Mahler Resurrection Symphony, Journey to Jerusalem, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Tel Aviv, Mount Scopus, Dead Sea, Seiji Ozaw, Rudolph Serkin

Duration: 3 minutes, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 29 September 2010