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"Some people think conducting is a science, some people think conducting is an art, and some people think conducting is just magic," notes a participant in this elegant document of the science, art and magic of orchestra conducting. Just beginning their careers, three young conductors attend a master class in Rotterdam to learn under the baton of the Russian maestro Valery Gergiev. Comparing an early career as a violinist, one notes a conductor's instrument is far more colorful, yet far more difficult, a statement the film quickly proves in riveting detail. To the baton born, these pupils may or may not have been, as Gergiev watches, cajoles, corrects and scolds each through a nervewracking test-run of a performance. Conducting is a way of expressing oneself, they confess, but the master guides them towards a more important goal: the music itself, and how to guide the orchestra's musicians towards expressing it. Gergiev's criticisms are tempered with warmth and a magnetic intelligence. Hovering behind them like an artistic father, his depth of feeling and advice reveal the art of conducting not only to his pupils, but to the camera, turning The Master and His Pupil into a master class of the art behind leading an orchestra. Filmmaker Sonia Herman Dolz, whose earlier work Black Tears unforgettably captured the passion of an ageless band of Cuban musicians, wisely allows the charismatic Gergiev to stand front and center, allowing his passion for music, and for those who seek to conduct it, to speak and soar for itself.
Film Information
Year: 2003
Length: 87 minutes
Language: English, Spanish, Dutch
Country: Netherlands
Premiere: U.S.
Cast & Credits
About the Director(s)
Documentary film director Sonia Herman Dolz was born and educated in the Netherlands and graduated from the film department of the Free Academy in The Hague. She has worked as a director for VPRO-TV's prestigious foreign affairs documentary program Diogenes, and on many different film and TV productions in Holland and abroad, both as a director and a cinematographer. Her documentaries Romance de Valentía (Only The Brave), Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears), and Yo Soy Así (This Is Me) have won numerous awards and international acclaim. The Master and His Pupil won the first prize at the Golden Prague Festival 2003 for Best Documentary. Currently, Dolz is developing her first fiction feature based on the novel The Sword and the Doll by Laurens van der Post, as well as working on two new documentaries.


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