Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Independent Short Film Review: Les Misérables (2012); Note by Payman Akhlaghi, on The Cinematic Adaptaion of the 1980 Musical by Schönberg and Boublil

Les Misérables (2012, English, 157')
Directed by Tom Hooper
Adapted from the 1980 Musical by Schönberg (book, music) & Boublil (book) 

Original Note by Payman Akhlaghi (Draft 1)
First published on Facebook.com/PAComposer, December 26th, 2012

To begin with, the absolutely courageous, stunning, captivating, and transporting, minutes-long close-up of Anne Hathaway as Fantine, singing the entire "I Dreamed a Dream" in a single shot, would more than justify one seeing this fine film on the large screen. The scene deservedly belongs on the list of the longest successful close-ups of the cinematic repertoire -- on par with that mesmerizing shot which opened "Tous les Matins du Monde", where Gerard Depardieu saturated the screen for many minutes with absolute authority. Ms. Hathaway not only sings but acts and performs the song with such flow and lack of affection that expecting her to be nominated for major awards feels quite natural. She's earned the director's trust in the maturity of her craft, whilst it's her performance and not just the music that has ultimately proven right the audacious choice made for the setting of this well-known number.

Altogether, this is one of the finest cinematic adaptation of any musical over the past two decades, a fact quite obvious from the very opening moments of the film. A sane balance has been struck between representative theatrical elements often imposed by, and lingering from, the original stage versions of any such adaptation, vs the realism of props, locations, and actions. This deliberate goal of achieving a convincing verismo within the fabulous aura of a musical has been heightened by the screenplay, and the masterly re-orchestration of the score, with the additional music, provided by Anne Dudley et al; and it's been consistently reflected in the emotional nuances observed by most members of the cast, which includes a sensitive and imposing Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. The attention to character details is equally evident in the fine performance by Russell Crowe as Javert, although one may not ignore that his excellent performance falls short on the musical side.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Intimately Beethoven: A Short Note by Payman Akhlaghi (2012) on the Largo of Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op.10, No.3, Mvt II

Intimately Beethoven
On the Largo e Mesto, Movement II from Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op.10, No.3

A Note by Payman Akhlaghi

To get a glimpse of Beethoven's genius at his intimate moments, simply close your eyes and listen to this slow movement, the Largo e Mesto (Broad and Sad) from Piano Sonata No. 7 in D, Op.10, No.3. Note his crystalline opening strategy; his mastery of pace, tension, suspense, form; harmonic and dynamic surprises; the variety of texture; and the control of register. Now imagine that he was merely 28 when he wrote it, and that it's only one of the 10 utterly contrasting movements of this 3-Sonata set, all composed about the same time.

(*) A performance by Irena Koblar, which lasts ca. 11mins.
(*)The Score of the Lago of Op.10/3, in PDF format.

© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All pertinent rights reserved.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Komitas Vardapet "Komitas" and Shogher Jan, A Note by Payman Akhlaghi (2012)

Komits Vardapet, "Komitas"
(1869-1935)
Armenian Composer
Founder of Modern
Armenian Classical Music
On Komitas Vardapet, "Komitas", and His
Shogher Jan for String Quartet
A Note By Payman Akhlaghi (2012)

Komitas (1869-1935): Armenian Composer, Founder of Modern Armenian Classical Music, Permanently Traumatized by the Events of the Genocide of the Armenian Population

First published on 12/08/2012 on www.facebook.com/pacomposer
© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Yesterday evening, I was walking toward my car, when I caught myself almost humming an Armenian dance tune in a fast 3/8 (or combined 6/8), composed (or arranged) for string quartet by Komitas. [1] I had heard the work for the first time more than 2 decades ago, in 1991, when it was performed by the string orchestra of Tehran Music Conservatory; although in the years since, I might have once more heard a recording of it, as well. The tune is in the major mode, with a buoyant rhythm, and enough repetition, all of which would make it hard to forget. Still, why this theme, then, and there, virtually out of blue? Music is strange.

In fall 1993, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, a major concert at Hollywood Bowl wisely paired Komitas' choral arrangements of Armenian melodies with Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, a.k.a. Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, in commemoration of the Holocaust. As I recall, the large choir was an ad hoc group consisting of Armenian Americans who'd gathered to prepare for this particular occasion. The impression that I got from Komitas' choral pieces was that of a pioneering figure, one who had tried to converge the Western classical tradition with the music of his native land. The music was straightforward and clear, an evident attempt to build up his musical culture from the foundation. (On that note, the packed auditorium did not virtually breathe for the entire duration of Gorecki's symphony. It was an event to remember.)

As I was preparing for this note, I learned [2] that Komitas lost both parents before he was 10, and was later permanently traumatized by the events of the Armenian genocide, including himself being sent to exile by Turkish rulers, only to be saved by foreign intervention. The torments that such a sweet innocent soul must have endured demand a moment of contemplation...

[1] A performance of "Shogher Jan" for string quartet. The theme I spoke of above can be heard immediately after a short introduction:
[2] Komitas on Wikipedia
[3] Score of Dances for piano (arranged?) by Komitas. A cursory look suggests their accessibly melodic and "fun" nature for intermediate pianists:

(*) Sources: Wikipedia.org
© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lutoslawski, Stucky, Salonen: Partita, Chantefleurs et Chantefables, Ad Parnassum, Homunculus; A Review by Payman Akhlaghi of Concert at Disney Hall, December 4th, 2012, Green Umbrella Series

Witold Lutoslawski
(1913-1994)
Polish Composer,
Conductor & Pianist
Witold Lutoslawski:
Partita, for Violin & Piano
Chantefleurs et Chantefables
Steven Stucky:
Ad Parnassum (1998)

Esa-Pekka Salonen:
Homunculus, for String Quartet (2007)

A Green Umbrella Concert at Disney Hall
December 4th, 2012

A Review by Payman Akhlaghi

LA Philharmonic's Green Umbrella Series are dedicated to the more serious if under-performed virtuosic contemporary music with typically smaller performance forces, and more dedicated audiences.

Last evening's program, Tuesday December the 4th, 2012, my first to attend in years, belonged to two chamber works by Lutoslawski, and two pieces by two of his champions, Steven Stucky and Esa-Pekka Salonen. I missed part of the first piece, Lutoslawski's Partita for Violin and Piano, a captivating sonic event, even as it permeated the lobby of Disney Hall via monitors. [1] The piece was later adapted fro violin and orchestra by the composer. [2]

Mr. Stucky's Ad Parnassum (1998) reminded me consistently of his earlier music, until it was confirmed from the program notes that this was in fact the same piece that I had heard him conduct back in 1999, at Japan American Theater, after a lecture presentation at UCLA: so much for this author's memory! [3] Given its pointillistic texture, based on a "polyphonic painting" of the same name by Paul Klee [4], the work demands of its small ensemble a maximum of focus and dynamic control to maintain tension and structural cohesion, a seemingly effortless task for master conductor Lionel Bringuier and his excellent performers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Genetics and Judaism: A Brief Symposium by Jewpers of IAJF; Tuesday, Novemeber 27th, 2012, 8:00 PM


Genetics and Judaism: A Brief Symposium by Jewpers of IAJF
Tuesday, Novemeber 27th, 2012, Reception at 8:00 PM


Genetics & Judaism:
A Brief Symposium by
Jewpers of IAJF
(Click Image to Enlarge)
Dr. Siavash Kurdistani, Epigenetics Research, UCLA
(Keynote Speaker)
Dr. Claudia Mikail, Clinical Genetics, Preventive Medicine
Dr. Jack Silvers, Dermatologist, Author
Dr. Babak Darvish & Dr. Daniel Darvish, Co-Founders, ARM Organization
Master of Ceremony: Deborah Zakariaei

* Brief Intro to Latest in DNA Research
* Hereditary Diseases in Jewish Populations
* Genetic Tracing and Its Racial & Ideological Ramifications
* Modern Jewish Ethics & Genetics
* Arm Organization and Advancement of HIBM Research

[*] Light Dinner, Drinks & Entertainment.
[*] Reception at 8:00 PM; Program begins at 8:30
[*] Admission: $7.00; Parking Optional
(*) This program will be conducted in English.
(*) No age restrictions above 18 for this program.
(*) Married couples are welcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Father, Lenny and Beethoven; A Page From My Life by Payman Akhlaghi

My Father, Lenny and Beethoven
A Page From My Life, by Payman Akhlaghi

It took 20 years for the pieces to come together, and it might only be of significance to me. Nevertheless...
A page in the pocket notebook left by my father on the 19th of October 1990 read in Persian, and I paraphrase as I recall, "For Payman, Leonard Bernstein, Berlin Wall concert, Beethoven's 9th symphony." I thought at the time that he must have heard the news on the Persian Voice of America, but the timing of it kept puzzling me over the years, since the event had taken place one year earlier in 1989. Not until last year did I notice that the note had to do with an obituary for Lenny, who had died just a few days before, on October the 14th.

My father was 10 years younger, and he wasn't a musician. He supported my interests, however, as evidenced not the least by remembering me in the quiet of his room, in a little note, that he would not find the chance to deliver by himself.

© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yousef Akhlaghi: A Celebration of Decency; A Tribute, by Payman Akhlaghi, 2007


Preface: The following is the text of a tribute which I wrote at the time of my uncle's passing. As I recently came across it, I felt that it could be worth being shared with a larger public, both for the sincerity of the sentiments expressed therein, and for it might be one of the better pieces of writing that I've produced in English over the years. -- P.A.

Yousef Akhlaghi: A Celebration of Decency


By: Payman Akhlaghi

March 21, 2007
Los Angeles
 © 2007, 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

It was amazing enough to see how he made life look so simple, living so easy. His real magic, however, was that he made living decently look so easy. And when he left us this past weekend, he showed all of us yet another miracle: he made not only living decently, but coming out the winner, look as easy.

He lived life the same way that he played backgammon. To the end, he remained hard to be beat at the game. He always played it with a kind smile, with no show-off of emotions, intelligently, quietly. He would hide his focus under a casual gaze. His eyes would study the entire board. He would pause, think, analyze the situation, consider all of the possible options. Then would come the move, which you could be certain was the best, the wisest. He never complained about the dice. Instead, you could see that he was thinking forward, concentrating his mind on finding the best solution for the given hand. He managed to do all of this with a serene demeanor, in an almost total silence. There were few words exchanged, and there were no cries. But you well knew he was thinking very fast, and that at the end, he was quite likely to win. He was a true master of the game, and still, he never gambled. Such matters didn’t seem to appeal to him. Clearly, he didn’t want to taint the joy of the game with such petty concerns. Winner or not, you could never find him boast or groan. Actually, he was so shy that he could not even look you in the eyes. But as he was looking away, you could still catch it on his lips—there it was: that ever-present, contagious smile.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Steve Reich's Tehillim: A Brief Discussion; Graduate Paper by Payman Akhlaghi, 2000, UCLA

Steve Reich (b. 1936)
American Minimalist Composer of
"Tehillim" (1981)
A Brief Discussion of Steve Reich's Tehillim (2000)
Author: Payman Akhlaghi

Graduate Paper Toward Degrees of MA & PhD in Composition (English, 18 pages)
Guidance: Prof. David S. Lefkowitz
Winter 2000, UCLA
Free to Read on Scribd
Shortened Link:
http://bit.ly/PA_Reich_Tehillim_2000

Excerpt 1:

"Introduction
Tehillim (1981) is an intriguing piece amongst Steve Reich’s entire oeuvre. While ‎its origins might be traced back to Reich’s earlier compositions, which had primarily ‎employed the so- called “phasing” technique as their main structural device, Tehillim ‎manifests more a departure from, than a continuation of, the phase period. Besides, ‎Tehillim seems as important within the general context of the post-modern minimalist ‎trends of the 80’s and beyond. Yet, because of its multifaceted musical conception, it ‎does not lend itself easily to a dichotomic stylistic categorization, i.e. it’s hard to place ‎Tehillim with much exactitude within either Reich’s own brand of modernist-minimalism ‎‎(or minimalist-modernism), or the post-modern musical world of the time. With Tehillim, ‎Reich clearly leaves behind the primacy of process and the supremacy of rhythm alone, ‎two of the conspicuous features of his earlier music, and instead, he embraces a more ‎comprehensive view of the composition’s sound-world, by devising longer melodic lines ‎and rhythmic patterns (as opposed to the previously short fragments), timbral diversity..."

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Someday Your Bud" by Payman Akhlaghi, Love Poem in English and Persian (August 2012)

Someday Your Bud
A Poem by Payman Akhlaghi
روزی جوانۀ تو
شعری از پیمان اخلاقی
© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. Text and Photo.
All rights reserved.
(Click on the Image to Enlarge.)
First published on August 24, 2012 on
The Author's Facebook Wall

(*) NB: This is an original post. The entire content of this post is by default copyrighted and belongs to Payman Akhlaghi, including all text and photos. It's the author's sincere hope that you'll enjoy reading the poem. However, you may not profit from any sales of the work, or quote from it without citing the author. Also note that the author is a composer himself, and as such, he strictly forbids anyone else to set his poetry, either in English or Persian, to music. Thank you.

Someday Your Bud
A Poem by Payman Akhlaghi
First published on August 24, 2012 on
The Author's Facebook Wall
She will happen to you.

Some day,
She'll emerge,
In a rising desire,
Inside a dormant dream,
Beyond the midnight fog,
Before the table.
Across the room.

Click on Read More for the Full English and Persian Text
ادامۀ متن  انگلیسی و فارسی در زیر

Monday, August 13, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock, The Trouble With Harry, and the Myth of the Honest Villager: A Short Essay by Payman Akhlaghi (2012)

A Poster for
The Trouble With Harry
the 1955 Film by
Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock, The Trouble With Harry & the Myth of the Honest Villager
A Short Essay by Payman Akhlaghi (2012) [Draft 1]


The Trouble With Harry (1955, 99 mins, English)
Dircted by Alfred Hitchcock
Music by Bernard Herrmann (*)

The dead body of an out-of-towner named Harry is found nearby a small rural settlement. Before it's become clear that Harry had died of natural causes, several characters have assumed their own guilt in his death, and they have tried to cover up their perceived crime. The film is a dark satire that sheds light on the hypocrisy of a small community by examining the cruel cynicism underlying a facade of congeniality, which in fact they share, if less conspicuously, with all other societies, large or small.

Harry is a significant work on the basis of its cinematic, dramatic, and musical merits. The film is further remarkable in that it criticizes uncompromisingly what we may refer to as "the myth of the honest villager", a fallacious assumption which has lingered far too long across epochs and societies. The myth basically implies that unlike city-dwellers, small-towners and villages are categorically more pure, honest, naive and gullible, caring, family-oriented, moral, natural, no-non-sense, real, straight-talkers, closer to their instincts, with convictions to be respected, if not downright adopted. The myth might appear innocently in the works of such poets as the Persian Sohrab Sepehri, or more consequentially in large scale populist propaganda commonly observed in politics of demagoguery. Over the ages, this myth has dragged many progressive movements astray, at times into regression, by unfairly forcing outdated provincial values upon the more dynamic urban cultures. Examples come to mind, from the Spartan-Athenian conflicts of the ancient Greeks, to the domineering air of the early Soviet Union, to the mind-boggling turn of events in 1979 Iran, not to mention the damaging influence of provincial inertia in today's Afghanistan. But the myth might as easily plague modern Western societies, as it may be evident in the anachronistic debate surrounding "The Evolution Theory vs. Creationism", or rather the larger political discourse of the past two decades in the States.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Composer Ernst Toch (1887-1963), a Note of Gratitude


Ernst Toch (1887-1963)
Viennese-born American Composer

"To the country which gave me shelter when shelter was taken from me I dedicate this book in everlasting gratitude."
-- Ernst Toch

For many years, I've wished to share this dedication with friends. I admit that I've never got around reading the whole book in detail yet, and no excuses there, but this particular dedication by composer Ernst Toch has continued to resonate strongly within me.

The prolific Ernst Toch (1887-1964) was a Viennese-born American Composer of advanced atonal stage and film music. He studied philosophy, medicine and music, in Vienna, taught for many years there, until due to the Nazi empowerment, he eventually landed in California. Here's the full version of the dedication from his book on music theory:


"To the country which gave me shelter when shelter was taken from me I dedicate this book in everlasting gratitude.


I do not know -- no composer does -- by whom my music is going to be liked, by whom disliked, by whom met with indifference. But having lived here long enough to know my fellow citizens' hunger both for music and ecucation I may perhaps hope that this book will reach and help also some of those whom my music will not reach or affect.


I wish I could convey that this dedication is not a mere gesture. Life and work were put back into my hands when they were doomed for me to cease. With this awareness, and with the awareness also that whatever I have created since then and may still create is rightfully this country's, I presume to offer this dedication. May the book return in humble service and usefulness a fraction of what I have received.
E. T."
-- Ernst Toch, the dedication to his book, "The Shaping Forces in Music" (1948, 2011, Dover Publications)

© Post by Payman Akhlaghi. All pertinent rights reserved.
© Dedication & the Original Cover photo by publisher. Shared with hopes of promoting the composer, his works, and his book. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grey Sighs of the Fog: The Liaison of Pitch and Celluloid, An Appreciation of Film Music, Graduate Paper by Payman Akhlaghi (2007)

Grey Sighs of the Fog: The Liaison of Pitch and Celluloid
An Appreciation of Film Music (2007)
(Parts I & II, English, 2006-2007, 28 Pages)

Author: Payman Akhlaghi

Original Graduate Paper Toward Degree of PhD in Composition
Independent Research Study
Excerpts of a Projected Book on the Subject
Fall 2006 - Winter 2007, UCLA
Free to Read on Scribd

(*) Full bibliography is missing from this version.

Filmmakers and composers discussed or referenced in part include:
Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock, Claude Lelouch, Fritz Lang, Ennio Morricone, Sergei Prokofiev, Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Gabriel Yared, et al. A comparison of different cinematic adaptations of Hamlet, as well as a commentary on Eisenstein's experience with Kabuki theater are included.

(*) Excerpts:

[1] Chapter 1‎
Yellow Wails of the Meadow
In 1928, Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) wrote in praise of the Japanese Kabuki for ‎its integration of the different sensory and intellectual elements of theater into a cohesive ‎artistic entity, one that if perceived as it had been instinctually intended, would induce a ‎unified emotional and dramatic effect in the audience. There, he spoke of “a monism of ‎ensemble”, where “sound-movement-space-voi ce … do not accompany (nor even parallel) ‎each other, but function as elements of equal significance.” The Kabuki artist employed ‎the theater as a quasi-synesthetic medium, building “his summation to a grand total ‎provocation of the human brain, without taking any notice which of these several paths he ‎is following.” As he observed, for example, once a character moved to the fore of the ‎stage, ever further away from a surrendered castle, his movement was conveyed and ‎accentuated in four stages of removal: ‎[...]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Composer John Williams (b. 1932): An Appreciation

John Williams (b. 1932)
American Film & Art Composer, Pianist, Arranger, Orchestrator & Conductor

With a Record 47 Oscar Nominations & 5 Wins to Date
Works Include Jane Eyre (1970), Fiddler on the Roof (adaptation), Jaws, Star Wars (Series), Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Indiana Jones (Series), Jurassic Park (I, II), Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Memoirs of a Geisha, War of the Worlds, A.I., Harry Potter (I & 2 Sequels), The Adventures of Tin-Tin & War Horse, among others.

He's composed the score for almost every major Spielberg film, except for Color Purple, and for almost every George Lucas film, except for THX-1138. For years, he led the Boston Pops Orchestra. In mid-1970's, he was largely responsible for re-introducing the symphonic score to the larger film culture worldwide, and his sophisticated music has continued to form a bridge from the pop culture to the classical music before a global audience. Many a first-rate young talent, and not just in the less developed countries, who had his or her first major grasp of modern symphonic orchestration by being exposed to his music. For years, he's remained the composer of choice for other Hollywood composers, openly admired on record as "the" role-model, by Elliot Goldenthal & James Horner, among others.

I've often recalled that I heard his music for Jane Eyre (1970) one night, as a little kid, on Iranian TV, and it never left me. The theme of Jane Eyre has remained one of my most endeared cinematic melodies ever since. Ironically, it took me many years before I learned that Mr. Williams, by then an established and admired figure in my musical glossary, was in fact the composer of this beloved theme from my childhood. He remains one of my most favorite composers in any genre, and one of the hand-picked film composers I could safely claim to be consistently excellent, without exception.

-- Payman Akhlaghi

(*) War Horse, directed by Steven Spielberg is nominated in the Best Picture Category (Oscars, 2012)

(*) This Note was first published and updated on 1/26/2011, on Payman's Facebook page.
Note © 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
(Photo available on the web.)

The Story of Pouran and Aziz: An Introduction by Payman Akhlaghi

Writing the story of my parents, our story, has been a long-term project; actually doing it, however, continues to prove impossibly difficult. For now, I do wish to leave at least a brief trace of it on the cyberspace.
-- Payman Akhlaghi, February 25th, Los Angeles

Update: Many erudite friends contributed to a discussion on this post, resulting in a thread which I think is of value to the public. You may read and follow the thread located on my Facebook Wall, as it's been made open to Public. (Author)


Preface: [draft 1]
My parents, Aziz and Pouran, were brutally murdered within hours, each in a different Iranian city, on October 18th and 19th, 1990, respectively. To think that how such violent cruelty could have happened to our little family, this remains largely beyond comprehension. The scope and nature of the crime made it one of the worst cases of violence against the Jewish community in modern Iran.

A few months later, shortly before I left Iran, the lead detective on the case told me in person that there was not enough proof to charge and convict the lead suspect in the case. However, about 2 years later, by then in the States, I was informed by my relatives that the same man responsible for the brutality had been finally arrested, had confessed to the murdering of my parents, and had been punished for his crimes. It was rather ironic that this was also the man who had long been trusted by my family and I.

Those who knew my father knew that he didn't believe in revenge, and later in life, neither in capital punishment. To me, this has meant to create arts, communicate my stance against physical violence, trying to spread a general respect for life, and doing the little I can to help prevent such monstrosities from ever happening to anyone again. It means to stop the cycle of revenge -- "now". In part, it entails helping to uproot anti-Semitism, using the limited intellectual means available to me.

© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Page From My Life by Payman Akhlaghi

It might sound strange, but it now seems that for the past few months, I've been defending the Constitution of the United States, and my dignity, by as little as insisting on my right to drink or eat, and read a book, in a coffee shop or a restaurant, without being insulted, disturbed or humiliated. Such abuse is not new to me. Combined with my sensitivities, they've largely handicapped my life and education for years, with some cases taking place on my very beloved campus, while I'd been doing nothing but a simple walk, heads down. However, the degree or nature of such abuse as I've experienced since about November 2011 has had few precedents. I've become consistently subjected to verbal harassment and manipulations of all sorts, in a straightforward or oblique but highly suggestive language, at times loudly directed at me, by suspicious individuals. These began to happen almost every single time I was out in the evening, as I sat at a place to eat or drink, and read a book. All these has happened while I'd been most polite to others, and mindful of their privacy in public. (Those who know me, would attest to that.)

I did not acquiesce to such thuggish behavior, as isolated or connected as they might have been, and whatever their intent, which I've left to speculation. Instead, I continued to stay, sometimes covered my ears, at all times tried to concentrate on my reading or writing, all the time staying as civil as I could. Only two or three times, when the deliberate intent of the perpetrator became clear, I voiced my concern against such "bullying by quasi-fascist techniques.", once by complaining to the waitress, who immediately sympathized with me, helped me change seats, and apparently asked the man to bring his voice down. I continued to stay, even though my heartbeat was at the ceiling and I'd been made sick to my stomach.

On February 17th, 2012, after months of perpetuated abuse, I finally decided to complain in person to the police department. The officer kindly listened and asked me to ignore such people (I've long tried), talk to them (I consider these too much beneath me), or call the police (which I very well might.)

Now I'm asking myself, was it worth it to for me to stay and suffer, or would it have been better for me to leave? I'm afraid that my answer is still, Yes. To be sure, I'm not the only person to have been put through such ordeals in any society, even in a very civil society in which I'm fortunate to live. Also, it's been very hard to distinguish such incidents from ordinary conversations, loud or soft, which go around us all the time, and which I do ignore like anyone else does. But after careful consideration, I concluded that everything about these particular cases indicated that they had been meant to bully me, a non-suspecting person, trying to have a moment to himself in a coffee shop, or have dinner by himself. If so, what would happen if everyone caved in to such bullying? -- A Page From My Life, © 2012, Payman Akhlaghi."

Film Review Snippet: The Winslow Boy (1999), by Payman Akhlaghi

"The Winslow Boy" (1999, 104 mins)
Directed by David Mamet
Adapted from the 1946 play by Terence Rattigan
Based on Actual Historical Events
Music by Alaric Jans
Cast: Nigel Hawthorne, Jeremy Northam, Rebecca Pidgeon, Gemma Jones, et al.

One of David Mamet's finest films, "The Winslow Boy" is based on true the story of a family who loses all they have, both health and fortune, to defend their 14-year old son against accusations of a minor theft, and to clear his name in court. A quiet narrative, as in most other Mamet films, allows his succinctly crafted lines to echo in the dignified spaces of his locations, and the drama to unfold smoothly, helping the audience to absorb the inner tension of the story and join this family in their predicament, while remaining in awe of their civility and persistent dignity. They might be talking, but what you hear feels as a whisper, as the very sound of their breathing.

We know that eventually, in the actual case, the High Court of Justice ruled that the child "is innocent of the charge." The film, however, ends with a more colorful conclusion, one that's never left me since I saw the film more than a decade ago, which I'd to quote in full from IMDB:
"- I wept today, because right had been done.
- Not justice?
- No, not justic. Right. Easy to do justice. Very hard to do right."
© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Musical Culture & Asymmetry of Information in Free Market Systems: Protective Intervention on Behalf of Minority Arts, by Payman Akhlaghi (2004, UCLA)

Charles Dutoit Conducting
LA Philharmonic
Free Market Systems
A Case for Protective Intervention on Behalf of Minority Arts

Author: Payman Akhlaghi (2004)

Graduate Paper Toward Degree of PhD in Composition
(English, 20 Pages, 2004, UCLA)
Advisor: Prof. Robert Fink



Note:
(*) Please note that this version consists of the content of the paper at the time of submision. Hence, this version does not reflect the advising professor’s final valuable comments and valid criticisms. – P.A., 2012

Excerpts:
"Is the market always right? Should the fate of culture in general, and music in ‎particular, be fully entrusted to the unchecked trends and decisions of a free market ‎system? Are sales ratings reliable indicators of the real value of musical artifacts or the ‎underlying cultural orientation of the society? Would the preferences of today’s ‎audiences amongst modern sonorities ‎ still be the same, had they been informed ‎differently?‎ [...] The present paper tries to offer a perspective on such issues, by relying primarily ‎on the notion of imperfect or ‘asymmetrical’ information in [free]-market systems, a ‎concept that was first developed in the 1960’s and 70’s America, and which eventually ‎garnered its three pioneers, Joseph E. Stiglitz, George A. Akerlof and A. Michael Spence, ‎the 2001 Nobel prize in economics. By referring to this notion, the author will attempt to ‎explain how it is that the artist in a free-market society, which is an ostensibly ideal ‎environment for the flourishing of his or her creative potential, can still maintain the need ‎for some level of intervention, preferably by democratically elected, qualified institutions, ‎rather than the private sector, in order to preserve the integrity of the collective or ‎individual artistic output, as well as the artistic experience of the audiences. My line of ‎thought recognizes Theodor Adorno’s major contribution, Culture Industry Reconsidered ‎‎(Adorno, 1963), [...]" Please click here to read the full paper.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Evolution of Keyboard Prelude from Bach to Shostakovich, Graduate Analytical Paper by Payman Akhlaghi (2004, UCLA)

The Evolution of Keyboard Prelude from Bach to ShostakovichA Brief Discussion
Author: Payman Akhlaghi (2004)

Graduate Analytical Paper Toward Degree of PhD in Composition
Essay in English, 45 Pages, 2004, UCLA

Consulting Professor: Ian Krouse

Free to Read, Download and Print at Scribd


"Abstract:
This paper traces the evolution of the genre of Prelude by ‎examining selected compositions from representatie ‎composers of each period, from Bach to Shostakovich. The ‎study tries to establish the validity of an evolutional axis in ‎the history of prelude as a genre, which it sees to be passing ‎through the works of Bach, Chopin and Debussy, with each ‎figure defining the genre on his own term and influencing the ‎succeding generations of prelude composers. Considering the ‎didactic dimension of prelude and its relation to the genre of ‎Etude, a short discussion of the latter is also included when ‎appropriate, as in the case of Chopin. A review of shorter ‎works by Bach’s contemporaries are included in Appendix 1.‎"

Composers discussed include: Bach, Cramer, Beethoven, Czerny, Chopin, Debussy, Scriabin, Shostakovich, Gershwin, Gorecki, Corelli, Pachelbel, etc. Works discussed  included WTC I and II (Bach), Chopin's Op. 28 Preludes, etc.

تاریخچه ای از تحول پرلود پیانو از باخ تا شوستاکوویچ
مقالۀ تحقیقی به قلم پیمان اخلاقی
به هدف دکترای آهنگسازی
به زبان انگلیسی، 45 صفحه، 2004، یو سی ال ای

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a Los Angeles based composer, pianist, and piano instructor. His repertoire extends over Classical, Pop and Film music, as well as Persian music (Iranian) and Jewish music. His lessons cover the Greater Los Angeles area, including the Westside, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Westwood, Beverlywood, Encino, etc.
For more information, please call 310-208-2927.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brahms & "Edward": Asymmetry & Performance Issues in Ballade in D minor, Op. 10, No.1, Graduate Analytical Paper by Payman Akhlaghi (2000)

Brahms & "Edward": Asymmetry and Performance Issues in Brahms’ "Ballade in Dm, Op. 10, No.1" 

Also Includes Two Brief Discussions of
"Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No. 2" &
"Rhapsodie in E-flat Major, Op. 119, No. 4"


Author: Payman Akhlaghi (2000, UCLA)
Graduate Academic Paper Toward Degree of PhD in Composition (27 Pages, English)

Supervising Professor: Robert Winter (Music 261E)

(*) Please note that this essay was formatted at the time as a basic HTML text for maximum accuracy on an older online database sharing system. Thank you. (Author)

Excerpt:
"[...] Section Three: The Extra-musical Origins of Asymmetry in the ‎Music of Brahms

Especially the Intermezzo affords us with the opportunity to ask if one can account ‎for the origins of such irregularities not merely on purely musical grounds. ‎

There are many reasons for such reflections. At any given period, each artistic field ‎might resist changes in some of its parameters, while promoting progress and variety in ‎the others. Music of the first half of the nineteenth century, for example, was relatively ‎explorative in terms of its harmonic language, some aspects of its formal aspirations, and ‎its timbral ambitions. Nevertheless, it had developed a resistance toward a change in its ‎underlying binary design, which manifested itself in the widespread acceptance of the ‎Sonata form (ABA in essence) and the generally even number of phrase elements. Even ‎the meter too had stayed frozen in either 2 or 3 meters, with extremely rare exceptions.. [...]" Please read, download or print the article Here.

Short Independent Film Review: A Separation (2011), جدایی نادر از سیمین, by Payman Akhlaghi

A Separation (جدایی نادر از سیمین، 2011, ca 123 mins, Persian)
Written & Directed by Asghar Farhadi
With Leila Hatami & Peyman Ma'adi.
End title music: Sattar Oraki
Reviewed by Payman Akhlaghi

By now, this has been a much reviewed and well received film. It's an artfilm without the pretense, a commercially successful neo-realistic work coming from Iran, with true roots in, and a genuine understanding of, its modern culture at large. It's full of sentiments, yet decidedly not sentimental. The script flows like a quiet and unceasing brook, with a dramatic curve that almost never loses its momentum. Notwithstanding the excellent work of the adult performers, the epilogue leaves you with one of the most moving cinematic moments ever solicited from a child actor. Patient, heartfelt, confident, the film captures the humanity of its characters at every turn, with a fitting camera work and an equally integrated editing style. If nominated, it could very well garner the first Oscar for an Iranian film. I'm pleased that this moving picture was the first Iranian film I saw in a relatively long time. This review first appeared on Payman's Facebook Page.

I find it noteworthy that Simin, the protagonist of "A Separation", when leaving her husband and daughter behind, doesn't ask for anything to take with her -- no shoes, no jewelry, no books, no tv's -- except for one thing: a CD of [Mohammad Reza] Shajarian's music. This is a significant homage paid by the younger generation of Iranian artists to this acknowledged master of Persian traditional music. Here's a sample of Mr. Shajarian's work.

Cast includes Leila Hatami, Peyman Ma'adi, Sareh Bayat, Sarnia Farhadi (Termeh), A.A. Shahbazi, S. Hosseini, Merila Zare'i, et al. Full cast and crew can be found at IMDB.

(*) Update: "...I think they are a truly peace-loving people." -- Asghar Farhadi, director of A Separation, speaking of Iranians, as he received the Golden Globe 2012 for Best Foreign Language Film, Sunday Jaunary 15th, 2012. The film was up against 4 other films, including the much discussed, impressive Almodovar masterpiece, The Skin I Live In. This was a tough contest, and the film earned the Globe with every breath, with every frame. Oscars could well be within its reach. Congratulations to the team & to the artistic community of Iran at large. - P.A.

(*) Update: On February the 26th, A Separation was awarded an Oscar for The Best Foreign Film.

© 2011, 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Short Film Review: War Horse (2011), Spielberg's Poetic Commentary Against War and Destruction, Review by Payman Akhlaghi

War Horse (2011)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Music by John Williams
146 mins, English
Original Review by Payman Akhlaghi

In many ways, "War Horse" is Spielberg's very personal and intimate sequel to "Saving Private Ryan" -- intimate, that is, by this director's standards. This has been clearly more than the simple story of an exceptional horse taken to the war front, who ends up trapped in a "no man's land"; or the suspense of whether he'd survive this unfair ordeal and return to the young man who had raised him. (No spoilers here.) It isn't a film about WWI in particular, either, despite the many specific historical and geographic contexts of the narrative. Instead, by underscoring the anthropomorphic aspects of the equine hero, and by establishing the humane bond between him and his young owner, the torments imposed on this innocent being have transcended well into the timeless zone of a poetic commentary on war and destruction. This is further heightened by many direct references to the humanity of the characters, beyond the common stereotypes of good vs. evil, including a significant scene of fraternization between enemy soldiers, which has in fact roots in the actual history of that war.