Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000), Modern Persian Poet, and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: A Tribute by Payman Akhlaghi

Ahmad Shamlou (1925-December 12, 2000), great modern Persian poet, a free spirited man, the poet of freedom, and one of the progressive minds of Persian intelligentsia. In 1963, he wrote and dedicated a poem to the brave men and women of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, about 20 years earlier.

Here's an excerpt from the poem, خفتگان (Those Who're Asleep):

از آنها که رویاروی با چشمان گشاده در مرگ نگریستند
از برادران سربلند، در محلۀ تاریک، یک تن بیدار نیست
(Of those who stared into the abyss of death,
Of the proud brothers, in the dark ghetto, none's awake.)

از آن ها که خشم گردن کش را در گرۀ مشت های خالی خویش فریاد کردند
از خواهران دلتنگ، در محلۀ تاریک، یک تن بیدار نیست
(Of those who cried rising rage in the clench of their empty fists,
Of the sad-hearted sisters, in the dark ghetoo, none is awak.)
[Draft translations by this author.]

You may find the entire poem in Persian at the following link:
خفتگان (Khoftegan, "Those Who're Asleep")
Poem in Persian by Ahmad Shamlou:

(*) Payman's Short Film, based on a poem by Ahmad Shamlou:
Recently, I completed the beta-version of my first short-film, a music video, upon a commission. The music is Not mine; and the words of the song belong to Ahmad Shamlou. Although the video is now posted on YouTube, in respect to the current wish of the composer-singer, a good friend of mine, I have not yet made it Public. However, if you're interested to see a sample of my budding cinematic portfolio, you may do so by clicking Here. (NB: The music is not mind. Full credits available on the page):

© 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All pertinent rights reserved for respective authors.

"Feather and Fire" (1998), Original Poem by Payman Akhlaghi

‎"Feather and Fire" (*)
A Poem by: Payman Akhlaghi (1998)

When the boots had marched away, and
the silence'd melted with the stink of
the corpses, all spread over the soup
of the mud, the urine, and the human
blood, the mother came out from the hiding.

Knowing that the father'd been shot--holding, still,
after death, onto his walking stick--she then
went on, looking for her only child.

As she turned over the half-burnt body
of the boy in the barn, she could hardly notice
the flight of the white feather,
that'd been spared in
the clinched fist of his...

Septmeber 30, 1998, Los Angeles
© 1998, 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) This poem was originally inspired by the news genocide taking place in Bosnia. However, I always understood it as a broader cry against war and violence toward the innocent. That was why in Fall 2002, I incorporated the poem into a dance and music collaboration with choreographer Sri Susilowati, based on this theme, as the conclusion of a seminar conducted by Prof. Keith Terry, UCLA. The poem was recited at the opening of the presentation, with some minor modifications.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Independent Film Review: The Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn, Part I (2011), by Payman Akhlaghi

Kristen Stewart in
Breaking Dawn (I)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I (2011, 117')
Directed by Bill Condon
Based on Stephenie Meyer's novels
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro
Cast Includes: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, et al.

"The Twilight Saga" series resonate with the throbbing heart of our inner teenagers. That could also be why the producers must have felt that the first ever wedding ceremony between a vampire and a human surely deserved to be captured in full for posterity. Alas, the result, which has occupied almost a full third of the film, looks as interesting as any other wedding video being watched for the 10th time.

And yet, this tedious intro has served well to shape the dramatic curve of the story, setting up a patient crescendo toward an exciting and satisfying climax, saturated as much with action as with genuinely engaging human, and vampire, emotions. The consistently sensitive and sympathetic performance by Kristen Stewart continues to propel the series through this installment, too, with no sign of fatigue. Mr. Condon, a seasoned director ("Dreamgirls", "Kinsey"), has not only maximized on the natural talents of his gifted actress, but also has successfully employed an abstract experimental visual style, which is more typical of art films than a commercial franchise.

Carter Burwell's bitter-sweet music, absent since the original installment, once more underscores a variety of sentiments and events, with his recognizable melodic contours and orchestral timbres, but without sounding intrusive or overwhelming.

As such, one might recommend, endure the wedding, and you shall feel rewarded!

(*) Although this author tends to highlight original dramatic scores, this simple yet exciting song by Barlow Girls seems to merit to force him break the rule: "Never Alone".

(*) "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Par I",  IMDB page.

© 2011, all text by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Independent Film Review: "A Dangerous Method" (2011), by Payman Akhlaghi

Knightley in David
Cornenberg's Film

"A Dangerous Method" (2011, English, c. 100 mins)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Music by Howard Shore
Screen adaptation by Christopher Hampton, from his play, "The Talking Cure", Based on the book "A Most Dangerous Method" by John Kerr
Cast: Keira Knightley (Sabina Spielrein), Viggo Mortensen (Sigmund Freud), Michael Fassbender (Carl Jung), Vincent Cassel, Sarah Gordon, et al.
(The original version of this review was first published at Payman's Personal Facebook Page, December 2nd, 2011. © 2011, all text by Payman Akhlaghi, unless noted. All rights reserved for the author.)


"We're Jews, my dear Miss Spielrein, and Jews we will always be.", so says Sigmund Freud, in director Cronenberg's latest film, about Freud, Jung, and Sabina Spielrein, a patient and later colleague of theirs. Today, she's credited, as a psychoanalyst, to have anticipated and perhaps inspired both men in some aspects of their theories. (*)

I meant to write about this film since I saw it on its first night in LA. A deliberately patient visual style has allowed the very impatient characters, and their equally passionate enactors, to come through with an exceptional, intriguing sense of urgency. Indeed, the consistently heartfelt, nuanced and sophisticated performances could garner an Oscar nomination for Ms. Knightely, if not also for Mr. Mortensen and Mr. Fassbinder.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Roy Harris: Symphony No. 6, "Gettysburg", Brief Discussion by Payman Akhlaghi

Roy Harris and Johana Harris
Awakening on YouTube

Roy Harris, Symphony No. 6, "The Gettysburg" (1944); Movement I: Awakening
A Note By: Payman Akhlaghi

Roy Harris composed his Symphony No. 6, the "Gettysburg", toward the end of WWII, inspired by Lincoln's famous address of 1863, and it consists of four movements which correspond to the salient themes of that brief note: "Awakening, Conflict, Dedication, Affirmation." The first movement is especially memorable, not the least, for its success at evoking the imagery of the "rise" of a young nation, and the spirits of its fallen. Emerging out of a quasi-eternal silence, the movement develops patiently, allowing its many short but recognizable thematic fragments to interact and converge; distinct layers of sound expose and superimpose; and a sonic mass to build in a gradual crescendo; toward an exuberant climax, an outburst of unsaid words. Given its tonal atmosphere and colorful timbres, Harris' Awakening remains an enjoyable and accessible treat on sonic terms, even on many listenings. Still, it does map large-scale strategic designs on an extra-musical, visual and conceptual, narrative to fortify formal cohesion; and as such, a sense of its narrative would surely enhance one's appreciation of the music. In that respect, this is as much a neo-Romantic work, as it foreshadows the Post-Modernism which was to fully emerge four decades later.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Independent Film Review: "The King's Speech" (2010), by Payman Akhlaghi

King's Speech (2010, Released 2011)
Directed by Tom Hooper
Music by Alexander Desplat, with original music by Beethoven, Mozart, et al
Cast includes: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Thimothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, et al.

I had avoided the film in its theatrical release, amid or because of the huge publicity surrounding it, followed by 12 Oscar nominations, winning 4, for Best Picture, Best Actor (Firth), Best Director, and Best Original Script (Seidler). I had avoided it, despite my admiration for the production team, including composer Alexander Desplat, most of whom I had long privately registered as consistently reliable in their art and craft. Not even an interesting interview I watched at the time convinced my doubts to vanish. But a few minutes into the DVD version of the film, I realized that fortunately, I couldn't have been any more wrong. To put it succinctly, here was a touching dramatic work, in a way, despite all odds, beginning from the true story behind it, to the carefully crafted script, to the sensible and sensitive ensemble performance, to the music, and to the gestallt of its cinematic experience.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Maimonides' "The Guide for the Perplexed" Translated to Persian by Ms. Shirin-Dokht Daghighian

Maimonides: A Guide for the Perplexed
Translated to Persian byShirin-Dokht Daghighian
Commentaries in English and Persian by the Translator
Published by
Persian Maimonides Foundation, Los Angeles (2011)

راهنمای سرگشتگان، اثر بزرگ فلسفی هارامبام
برای نخستین بار به زبان فارسی
برگردان، معرفی، نقد و حواشی از شیرین دخت دقیقیان
به همت بنیاد ایرانی هارامبام، 2011، لس آنجلس

The Persian translation of Maimonides' (Rambam's) most famous philosophical book, "The Guide for the Perplexed", or as known in its original Arabic, دلالت الحائرین, has just been completed by the Iranian American Jewish scholar, Ms. Shirin-Dokht Daghighian.

برگردان فارسی مهم ترین کتاب فلسفی هارامبام، "راهنمای سرگشتگان" سرانجام توسط دانشمند برجسته، خانم شیرین دخت دقیقیان، به پایان رسیده است. این اثر در 4 مجلد و همراه با حواشی و مقدمۀ مترجم فرهیخته توسط بنیاد ایرانی هارامبام  در لس آنجلس به چاپ رسیده است و به زودی در معرض ابتیاع عموم قرار خواهد گرفت. دکتر میر حمید سالک نقدی خواندنی بر این اثر نوشته اند که در سایت ایران امروز به چاپ رسیده است. 

Uncertainty as a Common Thread in 20th Century Philosophy, Science & Music: A Short Original Essay by Payman Akhlaghi (2011)

Uncertainty as a Common Thread in 20th Century Philosophy, Science & Music
A Short Original Essay by Payman Akhlaghi [Revision 2]

© 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. The following is a slightly modified version of a Foto-Note, first Published on October 1st, 2011, at Facebook.com/PAComposer under 
Uncertainty as a Common Thread in 20th Century Philosophy, Science & Music. . The following is copyrighted material at the time and by the virtue of its original creation. Proper citation is required. Thank you. [*This post was updated on 12.28.2014 to mend the links and this notice.]

A thread on John Cage's chance composition, "Indeterminacy, Part 1", initiated by Thomas Monteforte and Andy Green, led me to summarize some of my longstanding thoughts on the subject of probability in 20th century music, philosophy, and the little I know about physics.

By now for decades, John Cage has continued to provoke, inform, and fascinate me by way of his compositions, poems, interviews, and the very air of his being. That could be true for his striking "music of silence", i.e  "4'33"", a string quartet in the tonal style, a piece for percussion group which I heard live, his "sketching" over Dvorak's 9th Symphony, a movement from his "Lectures", his composition for an ensemble of radios, or his book of highly structured poetry, "Composition in Retrospect".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Film Review: "The Debt" (2010)

"The Debt" (2010, released 2011, English, 113 min) is one of the most gripping films of the past decade, well worthy of an Oscar consideration for its adapted screenplay, as well as additional considerations for three sophisticated performances by Helen Mirren, the beautiful Jessica Chastain, and the intimate Sam Worthington, cinematography, directing & edit, not to mention a very effective score by Thomas Newman, who's once more succeeded in reinventing his sound world. This is an artful film without a dull moment, one with an relentless suspense which has grown out of the necessities of its narrative, and the lives of its characters and their complicated pasts.

The film follows the intense emotional world of three specially gifted Mossad agents, and survivors of the Holocaust, tormented for decades over a lie they once agreed to live. By allowing its characters to express their pains, hopes and desires, the story surpasses a basic narrative of revenge, bringing out their humanity, three people, who seek not vengeance by justice, who struggle to the end not to become the very abhorrent beast whom they've pursued. The attempt at understanding the mindset of the characters has helped the film exceed the ethnic or political boundaries of the protagonists, and explore and relate to broader aspects of human condition.

I have not yet seen the original Hebrew version of the film, but to my recollection, "The Debt" is one of the finest adapted or original thrillers of the past few years, and next to "Munich" (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2005) and "Walk On Water" (dir. Eytan Fox, 2004, Hebrew), one of the three best revisionist films about Israel at large, and its much talked about secretive agency, in particular.


‎"The Debt" (2010, English, German, 113 mins.)
Directed by John Madden, based on Assaf Bernstein's 2007 film in Hebrew, "Ha-Hov"
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cast includes: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, et al.


© 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
(*) This review first appeared on Payman's Facebook page.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a Los Angeles-based composer, pianist, and piano teacher, covering the greater Los Angeles area. His repertoire includes classical, as well as Persian music. Payman holds an MA and a BA degree in Composition from UCLA. He's currently working on his dissertation toward degree of PhD in Composition. You may contact him by calling (310) 208-2927 [USA].

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chopin, Harmonic Series, Sympathetic Resonance & the Pedal: A Short Note on Nocturne No. 15 in F Minor, Op. 55/No. 1 by Payman Akhlaghi (2011)

Frederic Chopin, Nocturne No. 15 in F Minor, Op. 55, No. 1
A Brief Comparative Discussion of the Coda by Payman Akhlaghi

The Coda From Chopin's
Nocturne in Fm
The Mikuli Edition
(Click to Enlarge)
The Coda of Nocturne Op. 55, No. 1 is founded on a 13-bar pedal point of an F- major chord, spaced in an open position and sustained in the bass. This passage is of particular significance, given the fast decay of piano sounds.

In the Mikuli edition (left), the bass line is once re-articulated, while in the Joseffy edition (right), as well as in the Paderewski edition (as I recall), these chords are tied together throughout the entire passage without interruption. (NB: In the Mikuli edtion, at the beginning of the third system from the bottom, a Pedal marking is clearly omitted by error.)

The Coda from Chopin's
Nocturne in Fm
The Joseffy Edition
The discrepancy is not a trivium. It seems that Mikuli, in his focus on the theoretical aspects of the instrument, has lost sight of the composer's ingenious calculation of the effects of the harmonic series on the bass line, that is, the sympathetic resonance of the LH open strings with the rapidly ascending F-Major arpeggio of the RH. In practice, as the passage unfolds, the bass line "stays alive" by a succession of rapid notes in the right hand. That is, the arpeggio "keeps playing" the open F-C-A strings of the bass, by reinforcing their upper partials.

If so, the pianist might further consider to experiment with the damper pedal, perhaps avoiding it for the entire passage, partially or altogether, to allow for a more unique and delicate effect a more selective interference pattern, to emerge out of the interaction of the RH arpeggio with the only the three strings remained open (senza sordine, or "undamped") in the bass. Alternatively, and perhaps preferrably, one could also experiment with a gradual release of the pedal, as the diminuendo progresses.

You may notice how beautifully the sustained F-major chord in the left hand starts out, and continues, by "shadowing" the right-hand arpeggio. It's a most subtle effect, which could be easily lost if the sustained F-major chord is re-articulated, or if the passage is over-pedalled.

© 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Appendices:
1) The Mikuli edition in PDF:
2) The Joseffy Edition in PDF

Payman Akhlaghi is an LA-based composer, pianist and piano teacher. For lessons, covering the Greater Los Angeles Area, please contact: (310) 208-2927.

"Achorripsis" (1956-57): Iannis Xenakis and Stochastic Music

Achorripsis (1956-57)
Iannis Xenakis
Click for Larger Image
The score of Achorripsis (1956-57), ca. 7 mins, for 21 instruments, composed by the Greek French composer and architect, Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001).

This is an example of Xenakis's work in aleatory and stochastic music. The image is taken from the cover of "Music on the Move", a special edition of UNESCO's Courier, April 1986. This issue is of particular importance to me, as its Persian edition, and especially, Xenakis's enlightening interview therein, left an indelible impression on me as a teenager.

Related Links:
(*) Please click on the following links for the entire April 1986 issue of UNESCO's Courier, the magaine, in English, as well as French or Spanish, in PDF format.
(*) You may also listen to a rendition of Achorripsis, accompanied by an analytic animation, by clicking on the following: Achorripsis on YouTube.

© 2011, Text by Payman Akhlaghi.

Payman Akhlaghi is an LA-based Iranian American composer, pianist, and piano teacher. For lessons covering the greater Los Angeles area, please contact the following number: (310) 208-2927.

Film Review: "Love Crime" (2010, 2011 US Release)

Love Crime (2010, French, 104 mins, 2011 US Release)
Directed by: Alain Corneau
Music by: Pharoah (Ferrel) Sanders
With Kristin Scott Thomas, Ludivine Sagnier, et al.

Fortunately, Alain Corneau the co-writer has won over Alain Corneau the director, delivering a more or less satisfying psychological crime thriller, despite demonstrable weakness in his role as the director. I found the film a wonderful pas-de-duex for two gifted actors, as beautiful as talented they are, depicting ages-long fatal games of love and manipulation in a modern corporate setting. The main regret is that this could have been a much more engaging film, had the director not confused the meditative serenity of the likes of Tarkovsky or Rohmer with a disturbingly lethargic mise-en-scène and edit.

The music does add to the narraive in an atmospheric sense. It's largely made up of soundtrack numbers primarily composed for solo tenor saxophone and koto, which according to Ms. Sagnier, was already helping her get into the mood during the shooting. May I add that the use of koto, a Japanese plucked instrument, although geographically remote from the Paris settings of the film, does highlight the masked hypocrisy of the characters by alluding to Japanese Kabuki.

-- Payman Akhlaghi, September 3rd, 2011, Los Angeles

© 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

This short review first appeared on Payman's Personal Facebook Page, on September 3rd, 2011.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hafez and Kereshmeh: A Brief Metric and Rhythmic Analysis (Short Essay, 2011)

Asymmetric Interpretation
(Click to Enlarge)
Hafez and Kereshmeh: A Brief Metric and Rhythmic Analysis
By: Payman Akhlaghi
A Musical Analysis of the Prosody of a Persian Poem
Short Essay, 5 pages, 2011.
Available for free to the public.
NOTE: This paper contains an error by omission. A revision is due soon. Thank you.
Alternate Symmetrical Interpretation
(Click to Enlarge)
Excerpt:
"To come across any meter other than 6/8 and 4/4 in Persian music remains a delightful surprise, given the prevalence of the two meters across the entire spectrum of this musical culture. Over the past two decades, admirable attempts have been made to introduce 5 and 7 meters into the repertoire of traditional ensembles. However, the prosody of Persian poetry tells us that historically, this music once enjoyed a much more diverse metric and rhythmic life than its recent history suggests, especially considering the intimate connection between Persian poetry and its music.
I came across a poem by Hafez, the rhythmic structure of which intrigued me enough to prepare a brief analysis of its basic meter to share with my Friends (1). [...]
Read the full paper for free on Scribd..

Shrine of the Persian Poet
Hafez (1325-1390 C.E.)
حافظ و کرشمه: تحلیلی مختصر از وزن و ضرباهنگ
شعری از حافظ در ارتباط با گوشۀ کرشمه
به زبان انگلیسی، به قلم پیمان اخلاقی
پنجم آگوست 2011
مطالعه و چاپ رایگان در اسکریبد

Payman Akhlaghi is an Iranian American composer, pianist, and piano teacher based in Los Angeles. He can be reached by phone at (310) 208-2927, or email at PALetters@aol.com .
First draft published on Facebook and Scribd, August 5th, 2011.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Elements of Form and Surprise in Beethoven's String Quartet No. 12, in Eb, Op. 127, by Payman Akhlaghi (2005)

Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
Elements of Form and Surprise
In Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12, Op. 127, in E-Flat Major

Author: Payman Akhlaghi

Academic Research Paper
Toward Degree of Ph.D. in Composition
UCLA, 2005, 26pp.
Advisor: Professor Roger Bourland

Please click Here to read and print the paper for free at Scribd.com.

© 2005, 2011: Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Excerpt:

"....Means of Coherence

Op. 127 is an epitome of Beethovenian organicism. Among the factors that are possibly ‎responsible for the structural stability and formal cohesion of this work, Symmetrical Structures, ‎Motivic, Intervallic and Tonal Relations, besides what can be broadly referred to as Architectural ‎Constructions seem to be most prominent. ‎

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Goleh Goldooneh Man, Simple Arrangement for Solo Piano


Goleh Goldooneh Man (P. 1of 3)
Tr. & Arr. by Payman Akhlaghi
Click to Enlarge & Print
Or use links on the  right for
the PDF version.

نت موسیقی "گل گلدون من"، تنظیم ساده برای تکنواز پیانو
Persian Music Score
Transcribed and
Arranged for Solo Piano by: Payman Akhlaghi (2009)

Composer: Fereydoun Shahbazian
Originally Sung by: Ms. Simin Ghanem
3 Pages, in PDF format

Free to Download and Print.
Shortened Link
A Video Clip of the Source Performance


Goleh Goldooneh Man
(P. 2 of 3)

(*) This arrangement is meant for educational purposes.
Not for sale or resale.
© 2009/2011, Payman Akhlaghi, this arr/edition only.
All rights reserved for respective artists.

نت موسیقی "گل گلدون من
نت نویسی و تنظیم آسان برای
تکنواز پیانو از پیمان اخلاقی

آهنگساز فریدون شهبازیان
بر اساس اجرای خانم سیمین غانم

پخش و چاپ مطلقا رایگان است. اما تمامی حقوق این تنظیم برای پیمان اخلاقی و دیگر هنرمندان ذی نفع همچنان محفوظ است.ـ

Lambada, Music Score, Arranged for Solo Piano by Payman Akhlaghi

Lambada, Arranged for Solo Piano
Music Score, Original Transcription &
Arrangement for Piano
by Payman Akhlaghi

Click on the image to print a larger size.
Or Read and Print for Free at Scribd.com
Lambada, Arranged for Solo Piano

Music Score, Original Transcription & Arrangement for Solo Piano by Payman Akhlaghi (1 page, PDF)
Intermediate Level (2009)
Based on Kaoma's 1980's performance, as available on YouTube.

Click Here to read and print the score for free at Scribd.com.

You may also click on the picture on the right to download or print the image.

نت موسیقی لامبادا
نت نویسی و تنظیم برای تکنواز پیانو از پیمان اخلاقی
برای داونلود و چاپ رایگان به لینکهای فوق مراجعه کنید

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Film Review: The Princess of Montpensier (2011)

Film Review: The Princess of Montpensier
By Payman Akhlaghi
The Princess of Montpensier" (2010/11, Fr.)
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier (b. 1941)
Music: Philippe Sarde (b. 1945)
Based on the novel by
Madame de la Fayatte (1634-1693)

© Copyright: 2011, All text by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Every film by Bertrand Tavernier is a special treat; and "The Princess of Montpensier" is no exception.

This is a costume drama with real soul, thanks to an inspired casting; beautiful cinematography; shining color spectrum; camera movements as stylish on Steadicam as they're on tracks; beautiful locations; and impeccable mis-en-scène. But above all, the film owes its immense vitality to the director's acute sense of drama, control of rhythm, and espeically, his empathetic humane vision, seemingly a constant of his cinematic oeuvre, regardless of the period in which his stories take place.

Tavernier tells us an early Renaissance story of love and war, power and greed, dogma and freedom, but above all, one of a young woman's tragic fate in the context of patriarchal world, adapted from arguably the first novel ever written. Despite the temporal gap, there's a rare sense of relevance and immediacy maintained throughout, generated by selective dialogues, a linear narrative, decidedly unaffected performances, and hand-held camera movements. In a way, this film is successful against its presumed genre, because the director has deliberately made a "historical film" while avoiding many of the all too common, albeit successful, formulae of grandeur and exalted emotions, often encountered in the so-called Epic dramas.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elmer Bernstein, Cecil B. DeMille and a Love Story Named Ten Commandments (Film Music Review for General Public)

Bernstein, DeMille, and a Love Story Named "Ten Commandments"
By: Payman Akhlaghi
April 17th, 2011, Los Angeles
First Published as a Note on http://Facebook.com/PAComposer

50th Anniversary DVD Release
Includes both 1923 & 1956 Versions
And Interviews
 Preface

It's a testament to Cecil's uncanny eye for talent, who at 75, entursted his 2nd take on the "Original Testament" into the hands of a young Elmer (34), whom he ironically deemed as "a second Wagner!" The gamble paid off, as the composer managed to weave leitmotifs of glory & romance, passion & mystery, into what's ultimately a love story - the story of humanity's unceasing love for life & freedom.

The Affair of a Lifetime

The 1956 film "Ten Commandment" was indeed director Cecil B. DeMille's second adaptation of the Biblical story of Moses. Even today, the earlier 1923 silent adaptation surprises us by its own share of admirable technical achievements for the period. The "parting of the sea", for instance, is a marvel for its time, as the "creation of the tablets" is a memorable spectacle within its contemporary limitations . In retrospect, it's clear that the director's appreciation of the dramatic values of these two scenes would linger on through the following decades.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire vs. Webern's Six Bagatelles Op.9: Voices of Modernism? (1999)

Schoenberg vs. Webern: Voices of Modernism?

A Brief Discussion of
Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21
and
Webern's Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, Op. 9
(Sechs Bagatellen fur Streichquartett)

Free to Read and Print at Scribd.com.

Author: Payman Akhlaghi (1999)
Graduate Paper Toward Degree of MA in Composition | UCLA, 1999, 28 Pages
Supervising Professor: David Lefkowitz
© Copyright: 1999, 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved for the author.

(*) This academic paper includes background information and analysis mainly focused on Pierrort Lunaire (Arnold Schoenberg); a less extensive discussion of Six Bagatelles, Op. 9 (Anton Webern); and a certain  conclusions on the nature of Modernism in 20th century classical music.

Excerpt from the Introduction:

"The primary thrust of this paper is an attempt in understanding the place of two ‎quintessentially twentieth century compositions within our current discussion of ‎Modernism and according to our present conclusions in the seminar for which the paper is ‎being written. Yet, thereafter, it also tries to achieve a better understanding of Modernism ‎itself, in the light of these two compositions. Here, something should be noted. Although ‎at first this might seem to suggest a basically circular argument in nature, I believe it is far ‎from being so. It should be rather considered a reflection of the dialectic relationship ‎between the general definition of a class on one hand, and the particular species on the ‎other. Indeed, this has been the methodology that was adopted from the outset by the ‎seminar, and considering the illusive and controversial nature of the subject at hand, ‎namely Modernism, it proved to have been a quite suitable approach.‎

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Franz Liszt & Exoticism in Classical Music (2006)

Franz Liszt and the Case of the Other
Aspects of Exoticism in Western Classical Music Tradition
Free to Read and Print at Scribd.com.

Complete information:
Franz Liszt and The Case of the Other
Toward a Study of Aspects of Exoticism in
Western Classical Music Tradition

Author: Payman Akhlaghi (2006)


Graduate Independent Research Paper Toward Degree of PhD in Composition
UCLA, 2006, 26 Pages
Supervising Professor: Ian Krouse
© Copyright: 2006, 2011, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved for the author.

(*) The paper partially includes analytical discussions of Nuages Gris, La Lugubre Gondola, Mephisto Waltz (Liszt); Dance of the Dervishes from Consecration of the House (Beethoven); In a Persian Market (Ketèlby); etc.

Excerpt:

"[...] Liszt: Three Late Short Pieces

Nuages Gris

Hardly anything in the myth—and the spectacular works—of the extroverted ‎performer of virtuosic piano pieces could prepare the listener for the intimate world of ‎this short work of 1881, Nuages Gris, i.e. “Gray Clouds”, or “Somber Clouds”. Liszt was ‎the consummate romantic composer for whom the semantic context of the music would ‎be an essential element to justify its existence. Judging from the titles of his works, from ‎symphonic poems to the shorter piano pieces, it appears is that his musical imagination ‎would be stirred more readily by the exotic or surreal sense of a poem or a story, although ‎he also has enough ‘purely musical’ works to his credit: Faust Symphony, Dante ‎Symphony, Prometheus, etc., along with two Concertos and numerous Etudes, among ‎others. For such a compositional mind, the most inventive of harmonic departures would ‎inevitably be intertwined with some form of expressive need.‎