We know about the great musicians of the past only from written stories if they lived and played until the end of the 19th century. We can only imagine and read the stories of the contemporaries about the sound of the violin of Paganini, or the piano under the hands of Chopin or Liszt. Sound recordings started to be available at the end of the 19th century, and film rendition soon after, with film and sound synchronized since the end of the 20s. The great advantage of the artists playing today is that their music is available – if they allow, of course – for the times to come on recordings and films. More recently their lives and careers became also subject of documentary movies. Form now on not only their music but also their lives, characters, loves, families crisis can be documented for the posterity – if they allow so (or even if the do not, I guess).

 

source welltempered.wordpress.com

source welltempered.wordpress.com

 

 

I have seen three of them recently, all made in the last two years. The first was the closest to the traditional documentary genre retracing the life and career of the Hungarian-born conductor George Solti. The second one focused on how the Chinsese pianist Lang Lang grew up under the strong influence of his father and how he built a world-famous career starting from the very improbable career of a Chinese workers one-child family. Today I have seen Bloody Daughter, the documentary that Stephanie Argerich dedicated to her mother, the famous Argentinian pianist.

 

(video source EuroArtsChannel)

 

If somebody wanted a proof that it is practically impossible to live the life of a great artist and build a normative family with happy partners and children, Bloody Daughter is certainly one. Stephanie is the younger of the three daughters that Martha Argerich had with three different partners, and much of the film is dedicated into bringing together the pieces of the biography of a pianist who was another of these wonder children, raised and educated to be an artist – but also a beautiful woman, with a strong and unconventional character who decided to live her life as she wished to, placing her career at the highest priority. She is also a woman who does not have much of verbal communication skills, so although there is a lot of private footage of her on screen she talks very little about her art (and no great wisdom results) or even about her private life or feelings – we understand more from her looks, her facial expression, her eyes.

 

(video source mmoynan)

 

(video source DieVogelQDU)

 

Stephanie Argerich wanted this film to be not only about her mother but also about herself, her feelings, the relationship with her mother. There are implicit questions that she seems to want to ask her but never dares to. The puzzle of the family relations is carefully built in the first hour of the film, with the story of each one of the three daughters retraced and brought to its place. I would have personally wanted to dig more into the Jewish past of the family, but this seems to be a subject that neither Stephanie, nor Martha queried too much – maybe this is not that important to them, something buried in the past of Martha’s parents for unknown reasons never asked about. The last third of the movie does not bring too many new and interesting information about the great artist, and instead of the redundant family footage more music would have been preferable. Of course, this is just a personal opinion, but it might be shared by the many of us who love her art.