English Blog

A Movie “Cinema Paradiso” 3/6/19

March 6, 2019

This movie is one of my lifetime favorites, and I have already seen it so many times. Again I saw it the other day. This time on my computer! It was my first time to purchase a movie online to watch. I prefer movies at the theater though…. The movie is just wonderful. I cried again. Reflecting my own mind the movie seemed even more beautiful this time than usual. Robert Schumann said “The human heart sometimes seems strange, and pain and joy are intermingled in wild variegation.”

Ash Wednesday 3/6/19

March 6, 2019

Psalm 102.9  “For I eat ashes like bread, and mingle tears with my drink”

Music Performance! Subjective? Objective? 2/24/19

February 25, 2019

I played Beethoven Piano Sonata Concert last week. I was deeply moved by Beethoven’s mind during my performance. Op. 109 is one of my favorite sonatas. I have already written about my thought on this piece. We can feel Beethoven’s tender mind in Op. 109. The last movement is written in variation form, and at the end of the piece the opening theme comes back for a closure. It is very comforting. This opening theme is very meditative. During the concert after the finale of the variations (this finale is a “Praise God” moment, and we hear angels singing and trumpet playing) when the opening theme came back, tears came down on my cheek. Beethoven took me to a different zone. After I played the last note I could not get back to the real world (!) for a while. I try to have a balance between “Subjective” and “Objective”, but I often forget! I feel so fortune to be a musician and to have a free mind.

A Movie “Cold War” 2/19/19

February 19, 2019

“Cold War” has been advertised and talked. So I went to see it. Yes, it is beautiful and romantic. The picture (black and white) is gorgeous. The music is great. But the story is not convincing to me. I suppose the story does not matter in romance?? Each scene is almost a segment, and sometimes they are not connected each other. Again it may be the way the director wanted. So we, the audience, have to make up “in between”.

Beethoven Piano Sonata Editions 2/11/19

February 11, 2019

As I practice Beethoven Sonatas I have been looking at the different editions for my curiosity. Henle is wonderful and just so nice to see the dark blue cover! Recently I am drawn to Hans von Bülow edition. I can tell he was a great teacher. His comments are often very practical, yet very passionate. We know that he was one of very first Beethoven scholar, and of course he understood Beethoven deeply. It is so wonderful to feel his affection to Beethoven’s music in his edition! Also his writing is quite charming to me because of the elegant expression.  My Japanese piano teacher always encouraged me to look at different editions, at least 3 different, when I was very young. I still do. IPad music is getting more and more common in these days, and it is certainly very convenient. I may shift to IPad for my chamber music playing. But personally I can’t study music well with IPad. It is so wonderful to compare different books and see the pages! I know I am a dinosaur! Anyway it gives us a great feeling to read what music giants were thinking.

Living with Beethoven’s Life 1/21/19

January 21, 2019

I am focusing on Beethoven’s music in the 2018-19 season. I was little overwhelmed few weeks ago preparing so many Beethovens! I just performed Beethoven’s 3 cello sonatas, and will perform Beethoven’s 3 piano sonatas in February. It was almost “miracle” that I started to feel comforted once I passed the stage being overwhelmed. Beethoven’s life has given us the great imagination for many years in the world. He is a giant and he is a human-being. I often find moments in his music “Ludwig, you are trying to trick us?!” or “You are having an amazing time!” or “You are giving me a hard time…” or just simply “I love your music”. It has been and it will be an honor to live with Beethoven’s music and life.

Beethoven wrote various sonatas for various instruments in a different part of his life and it is a wonderful journey to survey those pieces with his life. I am preparing Op. 31 No. 3 “Hunt”, Op. 53 “Waldstein”, and Op. 109, “Hunt” as one of the happiest sonatas, “Waldstein” as one of the most virtuoso ones, and Op. 109 as most tender one. He tells a lot of stories in those sonatas. As I wrote in the past 2 main facts should be examined for studying piano sonatas, one to be the instrument development (pianoforte to modern piano), and another one to be his deafness which transformed his existence. I imagine Beethoven loved new gadget. If he would live in the current era I am sure he would love the technology! So piano development was a big part of Beethoven’s piano composition.

My concert for 3 Beethoven Sonatas will be on Saturday February 16 at 4pm at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena (500 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91101) as a part of 3rd@1st Concert Series . I will speak about the pieces and will perform.


A Movie “Capernaum” 1/2/19

January 2, 2019

I saw this movie just before Christmas. “Capernaum” blurs the line between fiction and reality. The performers are not acting. They are real people, like the characters in the movie. The movie is from Lebanon, and directed by Nadine Labaki. The movie starts with the scene which a 12 years old, Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), is in the court suing his own parents for their negligence and abuse. He wanted to sue his parents because he was born, and he wanted his parents to stop having more children. They are not registered. His parents have stayed where they were born, but Zain wanted to change. He has been taking care of his siblings, and he works at the nearby market. He is the one to bring food for the family. His father drinks. Everything is so painful and hopeless. But Zain has a mind and strength to think. The movie received the jury prize at Cannes Film Festival in 2018. It is a very powerful movie. It has been more than a week since I saw this movie, and I still think about it.

Christmas Prayer 12/24/18

December 24, 2018

Holy God of love, we rejoice in the reality of who you are.

We live within the joy of your love for us.

Our contentment comes and goes.

Our happiness ebbs and flows.

Our feelings depends upon our circumstances,

but our joy is deeply rooted in our identity as you beloved children. 

We give you thanks this day and always.


A Movie “Shoplifters” 万引き家族 12/3/18

December 3, 2018

I have been looking forward to seeing this movie since this summer. Finally it is showing at the nearby theater. I love Kore-eda’s movies. “Shoplifters” won this year’s Palme d’Or! Kore-eda revisits the theme on “Family”, this time even deeper. The made-up family lives with an old lady in the very tiny house in Tokyo. Each member does not have any blood relation to the other, but the group functions as a family. They are poor, and probably not educated. One cold night they found a little girl on the street and she will become a new family member! What is “Family”? What do we want in our lives? Kore-eda strips everything and shows us the true human. At the end he does not give us the answer we want to hear. Amazing acting! Fantastic camera work! You must watch!

A Movie “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” 11/20/18

November 20, 2018

She is Maria Callas!! And she talks about herself. So it is easy to imagine what we may see in the movie 🙂 What a life! She died when she was 53 in her apartment in Paris. When I was in Paris I happened to spot her tomb. It is very simple, unlike her real life. I could not believe it first…

Anyway the movie is very interesting. And we will be convinced by the word”Diva”! She fully lived for the life of Diva, every moment! There is no word from her manager, accompanist, and family in the movie, and I would love to hear from them for the next time. It is very entertaining!