Classical Music on Film

Classical Music on Film

Emmy-winning director-producer Peter Rosen has created dozens of documentaries on artists ranging from Leonard Bernstein to Garrison Keillor to architect I.M. Pei. For this Russian classical-music two-fer, Rosen screens and discusses Khachaturian, his 2003 biography of Georgian-born, Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, narrated by actor-playwright Eric Bogosian and set against the Soviet regime. Part of the era's trifecta of celebrated Russian composers that included Prokofiev and Shostakovich, Khachaturian's career was in and out of favor with the Communist party, especially the Stalinist regime, which deemed his music "anti-people." Included are interviews with fellow composers, musicians and relatives, including his son, who gives insight into the making of such masterpieces as the "Sabre Dance" — undoubtedly one of the most famous movements in musical history — from the 1942 ballet Gayane and 1954's Spartacus ballet, the story of a slave uprising against an empire, which mirrored Khachaturian's life as an artist challenging a government. Rosen also screens Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler, his somewhat less than flattering 2011 portrait of the 20th century's first violin virtuoso and his dark and complicated private life. Born in Lithuania, the child prodigy emigrated to America at the dawn of the Russian Revolution, making his Carnegie Hall debut at 16 and eventually settling in Beverly Hills. At the height of his pop-culture fame, he was even name-checked by the Muppets and in I Love Lucy. With Heifetz estranged from his family, Rosen had to rely on archival footage and home movies, in addition to testimonials by colleagues, former students and heavyweights like Itzhak Perlman, as well as Ayke Agus, Heifetz's confidante and USC Master Class accompanist, whose memoir, Heifetz as I Knew Him, inspired the film. American Cinematheque at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., April 21, 7:30 p.m.; $11, $9 seniors and students. (310) 260-1528.
Sat., April 21, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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