English Blog

A Movie “Back to Burgundy” May/2020

May 26, 2020

I love French wine countries. The location of this movie is picturesque Burgundy, and actually we can learn the process of wine making. 3 siblings reunite at their family vineyard when their father was terminally ill. The old brother escaped from their family business and 10 years later he came back to see their father passing. As we imagine (!), there will be a lot of conflict and misunderstanding between them. “Wine” keeps them together. It is in French with English subtitle. My hobby is to keep learning French in a very relaxed way (!). If I can catch words here and there I give myself a score!

A Movie “Roman Holiday” May/2020

May 26, 2020

It has been about 2 months since the lockdown. Rome seems so far away in theses days. I don’t know when I can visit Europe.. I thought about this movie! I have watched it before, of course. But I chose to watch it again. I needed something innocent and fun. Audrey Hepburn is just beautiful and cute. She is a legend. I had a great time watching it. I strongly recommend this movie, especially in the current difficult time.

A Movie “La Fée (The Fairy)” 5/11/20

May 11, 2020

I truly loved a movie “Lost in Paris” by Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel. “The Fairy” was produced by Fiona and Abel too. We need a good laugh under this circumstance. Somehow their wit and humor clicks into my laugh button, for example perfect amount of clumsiness and foolishness.  A hotel clerk (Abel) falls in love with a charming fairy (Gordon). It is not an usual romantic comedy. It is very clever and witty with hidden satire and advocacy. It is in French with English subtitle. Recommended from a Bottom of my Heart!

Frühlingstraum (Dream of Spring) from “Winterreise” Op. 89. 5/1/20

May 1, 2020

I have been practicing Franz Schubert: Sonata D 664, and started to hear this song whenever I play the last movement. They share the same feeling. The text is by Wilhelm Müller and it is very beautiful. Schubert is a word painter, and surely this song by itself shows his incredible talent. Of course, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore are my first choice to listen any German lieder. It is May 1st and you will be enjoying this poem (translated in English). We can dream even in the difficult time.

Dream of Spring

I dreamt of bright flowers
that blossom in May;
I dreamt of green meadows
and merry bird-calls.
And when the cocks crowed
my eyes awoke:
it was cold and dark,
ravens cawed from the roof.
But there, on the window panes,
who had painted the leaves?
Are you laughing at the dreamer
who saw flowers in winter?
I dreamt of mutual love,
of a lovely maiden,
of embracing and kissing,
of joy and rapture.
And when the cocks crowed
my heart awoke;
now I sit here alone
and reflect upon my dream.
I close my eyes again,
my heart still beats so warmly.
Leaves on my window, when will you turn green?
When shall I hold my love in my arms?

A Movie “Death in Venice” by Luchino Visconti/Thomas Mann 4/22/20

April 22, 2020

I saw this movie when I was young too. Based on a novel by Thomas Mann, this movie is often known as one of the best movies of Visconti. The story is not complicated. A terrified composer, Gustav Von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde), visits Venice to recover from his illness, both mentally and physically. He is lonely. He stays at a nice hotel near a beach, and one day he spotted a beautiful young Polish boy, Tadzio (Björn Andrésen). Tadzio was vacationing with his family. Aschenbach fell in love with Tadzio, and became obsessive. He follows him. He can’t stop thinking of him. Then, he looks at himself, and he can’t accept who he is.. One day he went a beauty parlor and got a make-up and hair dye. It is very sad how he looks.. The ending scene is unforgettable. The movie captures the beauty of Venice and the scenes of vacationers. It is a psychological movie and some scenes are very long without much motions. I may not rate this movie as Visconti’s best film, but the acting is excellent.

Home Alone and Music – Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata in A Major, D 664 Op. posth 120 4/15/20

April 15, 2020

I have been a great friend of “music” and “books” since my childhood. I love my human (!) friendship, but also I love solitude. I appreciate to my friends, books and music, especially in this quarantine period. I can entertain myself! I have been revisiting piano pieces I have learned before, and it is quite fun to see them again. It gives me a smile to see the sloppy notes on the pages. I was very diligent to analyze Bach’s fugues with color pencils  and some obscure signs when I was young! My childhood piano teacher was obsessed by the correct fingerings. She wrote “Correct Fingering” for 2 or 3 times on one page! I have been going through Well Tempered Clavier, Beethoven Sonatas, Schubert Sonatas…

I rekindled with Schubert: Piano Sonata in A Major, D 664. What a Delight! I suppose I studied hard on this piece when I was young. The pages have full of writings. I even can’t see some notes because of corrections. It was very common to use this Japanese edition which my teacher’s teacher edited.  We believed it was the best one, but I ordered Henle edition yesterday! Young Schubert was vacationing with a close friend during the summer of 1819 in Steyr, few hundreds miles to the west of Vienna. He was happy. This sonata was a production from this summer. Schubert talked about “pretty ladies”. From the first note, it is Schubert, beautiful melodies woven into his signature rich harmonies, simple, yet innocent and sincere. Schubert’s hero, Beethoven, is quoted in the second theme of the first movement. But even this quote is not spoken loudly. I can see Schubert is smiling in this quote! The second movement has only one motive, but with Schubert’s genius mind, it tells a full story, beautiful nature he was walking everyday. The last movement is very charming and witty, dancy and chatty.

I don’t have Vienna’s nature, but I have blue sky and palm trees, and mockingbird singing all day long. My quarantine time is filled with Schubert’s wonderful mind. I am sure everyone will smile hearing or playing D 664. I have been reading C. P. E. Bach’s “Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments”. He was a true human and I can’t wait to give a report on this book!

2020 Easter Sunday

April 12, 2020

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.
Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosses taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, that key
is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

– from “The Temple” by George Herbert (1633)


Music in a Difficult Time. Brahms: Drei Intermezzi Op. 117

March 17, 2020

We suddenly live in a very difficult time. The things we had before are out of reach. Worries, concerns, anxieties… But it won’t be forever. We have to live through and will go back to a better time.

After dealing with so many changes and making decisions (I am still doing it), I play music. First piece came to my mind is Brahms: Op. 117. This piece has a special place in my heart. Sweetness, tenderness, melancholy, affections, timelessness… I play Op. 117 every day, and explore voicing, phrasing, color, or just play it. Brahms quotes a poem at the beginning (English Translation):

Sleep soft my child,

Sleep soft and lovely.

I feel sadness when you weep.

Brahms’ lifelong soul mate, Clara Schumann, was delighted to receive the copy of Op. 117. She was loving it. They did not see each other often toward the end of their lives, but they were inseparable each other in their hearts. Brahms died not too long after Clara’s passing.

I will play No. 1 of Op. 117 as a part of a recorded service this coming Sunday (http://fumcpasadena.org) at 10am Los Angeles Time. (I will record at my house and it will be played toward the middle of the service.) Please stay safe and well, and take care.




Movie “Emma” 3/2/20

March 2, 2020

What a witty movie it is! Casting is fantastic. Emma is young, handsome, and clever from a rich family. She has everything. She lives in a small (not a lot happening!) town and she controls people’s mind. She thinks she is above everyone and all the boys should be attracted by her. she is so beautiful. It is a great comedy. The story is simple, finding love after misguided matches and romances. I loved the historical costumes. So charming!! If you need a moment to relax and laugh, this is the one!

A Movie “The Prado Museum: A Collection of Wonders” 1/14/20

February 10, 2020

I am sure every person in the audience wanted to go to Madrid after seeing this movie! The picture is beautiful and the narration is very nice. But the museum collection is so huge and the stories behind the museum is so much to observe and take in, and I was almost overwhelmed to watch through the movie. The movie is wonderfully written out, including Vélazquez, Rubens, Titian, Mantegna, Bosch, Goya, El Greco, and rulers, painters, artists, architects, collectors, curators, intellectuals, visitors from the last six centuries…. I will take it as an introduction to Madrid (I have never been to that city) and I will definitely visit Madrid when I have chance, maybe this summer??