Monday, January 5, 2015

Beethoven Virus (2008): Classical Music in TV Dramas; TV Film Review by Payman Akhalghi (2015)

"Beethoven Virus" (2008): Classical Music in TV Dramas
Film & TV Review by Payman Akhalghi (Draft 1)

(*) First published as a FotoNote at Facebook.com/PAComposer on January 5th, 2015, under "Memo: "Beethoven Virus" & Classical Music in TV Dramas

It's a delight to come across a popular TV production wherein human decency, sophisticated arguments, beautiful sentiments, culture, and striving for excellence, are intrinsic to its themes, and are consistently interwoven into its fabric. It would be a rare delight if this production were a series that revolved around a group of classical musicians, their personal, professional and social lives, who tried their best to make and share music in a small aspiring city. "Beethoven Virus", a 2008 South Korean melodrama in 18 episodes, is often such a rare delight, even as this author does not know the language and had to rely on the subtitles.(*)

The many merits of "Beethoven Virus" may easily convince the viewer overlook its many typecasts and overworked dramatic formulae, rather typical of the genre at large. The musical information is precise, down to the detail, suggesting serious "insider" involvement at the core of the production. The soundtrack is satisfying, the more so, because of the evident budgetary limitations. Despite all odds, the main theme of the series, with its touching romantic spirit, succeeds to withstand the many excellent classical excerpts.

The cast is often young, attractive, and clearly skilled in music. A love of high culture permeates its often modest air. At its best moments, emotional tension systemically avoids degrading into banal resolutions, and the anguish that the central characters endure in their relations, deemed and understood as the inevitable price of their truth, comes across as convincing. The myths and spirits of classical figures, from composers Beethoven and Mozart, to conductors Kleiber and Celibidache, have informed many facets of the drama, characters, their persona, attitudes and behavior. Yet, in its affection for art music, but also in its desire to reach the larger population, through the everyday language and the humane touch of its characters, with their virtues and modest vices, in their strengths and weaknesses, the series has further the viable potential to indeed encourage its audience to appreciate, support, even pursue high music.

To conclude, as a popular TV series, "Beethoven Virus" surely deserves to benefit from the impeccable technical sophistication of a Hollywood production in an English adaptation, which I am inclined to believe will prove more plausible than it might appear at this moment.

(*) The series distributed by MBC, is currently offered on Hulu.com.
(*) Photo: The promotional cover of the DVD, available on the Internet.

© 2015, Original Review by Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a composer, pianist and piano teacher based in Los Angeles. His repertoire covers Classical music, as well as Persian (Iranian) Music, Pop Music, and Film Music. For information on the lessons in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Encino, Brentwood, etc. please call: 310-208-2927. Thank you.

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