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Isaac Stern no more

Isaac Stern was 81 when he died in New York on September 23. Arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome had made playing painful for the famed violinist, but that didn't stop him from playing for peace at Jerusalem when the Gulf War broke out in the 1990s. Like with another great violinist Yehudi Menuhin, but not in the same activist degree, public causes weren't too distant from music for Stern.

The American maestro stayed in China for a month in 1979, after the Sino-American relationship was restored. His film Mao to Mozart won him the Oscar. In the film, he describes what it takes to "play with the heart".

Stern was known for his interpretation of the romantic composers. He considered himself handicapped in not having a strong foundation in the technique of playing the violin. The instrument, he believed, was an extension of the voice. But he also held that to interpret a piece well all one needed was culture and a will.

Born on 21 July 1920 into a Jew family in Ukraine, from the age of one, he lived in the United States. He learnt the violin from his mother and gave his first public performance when he was 13. His parents had fled from the Russian revolution.

He recorded over 100 albums, interpreting over 200 compositions by 63 composers.

Who really wrote 'Tera jadoo'?

A poet from Mumbai says the film industry has been denying him credit for the songs he wrote.

Taabish Romani, in a letter published in the film magazine Screen, says he wrote the hit song Tera jadoo chal gaya for the Abhishek Bachan starrer of the same name, but no credit was given to him in the title cards or on the tape inlay card. He says another song he wrote for the recent Ajnabee has been credited to Sameer.

The text of his letter:

"I am a poet-lyricist and I have worked with most of the music directors in the film industry. To name a few, with Laxmikanth Pyarelal in K C Bokadia's film Mohabbat ki Arzoo for which I got a tremendous response from music lovers. After that I penned the songs for Vashu Bhagnani's Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya with music director Ismail Darbar, like the title song Tera jadoo chal gaya and Chand teri chandni ki kasam. But I have no idea why the credit for my songs for the film was not given to me.

Once again, the film Ajnabee has one song written by me, which is being played on different channels while the credit for the song has been given to Sameer. This time I have lodged a complaint with Film Writers' Association. The film was released on September 21. I will be grateful if you can make this information available to the public and make them aware of the truth".

Published on 29 Sep 2001

MIT's free courseware page has music links too  

Massachussetts Institute of Technology's open courseware page includes links to pages that talk about courses on offer, but not much material you can read online.

MIT's idea of putting online all its course material has already generated excitement not just among students but also among those curious about many disciplines but in no position to take up fulltime courses. Extensive notes on subjects like architecture, civil engineering and mathematics are already online, and can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection.

The music section is combined with MIT's theatre section, and the courseware page links you to course outlines and lectures at the premier institute.

Among the courses offered is 'The Music of India', which teaches ragas and talas through Hindustani compositions. An introduction to the cultural background of the music is also part of the course.

The Mellon and Hewlett Foundations have together granted 11 million dollars to MIT to launch free course materials on the web.

What is already online is just the first instalment of free course material, and the institute promies to upload more material soon.

MIT is clear that it does not want to run correspondence courses. It hopes faculty at colleges and universities around the world will use this material "to develop new curricula and specific courses". Individual learners, MIT says, can use the courseware for "self-study or supplementary use".

Published on 16 Sep 2001

Praise for Sivaji Ganesan

World Tamil News, a site with audio streams, has compiled  a series of homages to Sivaji Ganesan, the 'chevalier' of Tamil cinema who died last month.

Among the voice streams you can hear are directors Bharatiraja and Major Sundararajan. Sivaji, the man who acted out hundreds of hits songs on the Tamil screen, also got a hero-worshipping homage from Kamala Hasan in the weekly magazine Outlook . Kamala Hasan wrote the script for the film Thevar Magan with Sivaji in mind. Kamal played Sivaji's son in that story about feudal hostility. Ilaiyaraja's score for Thevar Magan "inspired" a couple of Hindi tunes later.

Published on 4 Sep 2001

Sarvajna's Kannada aphorisms in Tamil

Sarvajna is to Karnataka what Thiruvalluvar is to Tamil Nadu. His aphorisms speak in a language that is simple and direct. Sarvajna spoke a secular philosophy, offering advice on social issues, and never praising a sect or deity.

A Tamil translation of Sarvajna's Kannada work was released in Bangalore on Sunday, September 2.

Sarvajnar Urraipa is the work of N Das, who has chosen some 1,000 vachanas of Sarvajna and rendered them in Tamil. Sarvajna wrote tripadis, a three-line form that may be loosely compared to the haiku. But while the haiku thrives on subtle internal rhyme, the tripadi rhymes with greater force, and is easy to remember and recite.

N Das's book was released by Harnahalli Ramaswamy, former minister and Congress leader. Prof C Ramaswamy of Madras University praised the lucidity of the translation. Dharam Singh, public works minister, promised to help the setting up of a research institute to promote the work of Sarvajna.

A Sarvajna statue is due for unveiling in Chennai, while a Thiruvalluvar statue is awaiting unveiling in Bangalore. Veerappan, after kidnapping Rajkumar, had turned the Thiruvalluvar statue issue into one of his bargaining chips.

A cassette of Sarvajna vachanas was released at the book release ceremony. B V Srinivas is the music composer, and the singers include Archana Udupa, Badri Prasad and Surekha, all young and rising talents on the Kannada commercial music circuit. 

Published on 3 Sep 2001

Fardeen Khan to act in music video

Alisha Chinai, the Made in India singer, will get Fardeen Khan for a model in her next music video.

Alisha rose to television fame with Made in India, a music video full of cliches about the 'Oriental' charms of India. The queen is looking out for a man. She is unhappy with men from other countries, and amidst snakes and half-clad dancers and dowry boxes, chooses a hunk from India! Sanjay F Gupta is the director of Alisha's video with Fardeen.

Published on 3 Sep 2001



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