Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

31 MARCH, 2011

A Rare Archive: The Lost Beatles Photographs

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Last year, we swooned over Nowhere Boy, the lovely documentary about John Lennon’s little-known early life. This month, rock historian Larry Marion furthers our obsession with knowing the unknown Beatles in The Lost Beatles Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive, 1964-1966 — a rare and revealing look at the iconic band through a series of intimate, never-before-seen photographs taken during The Beatles’ three U.S. tours.

The photos were taken by The Fab Four’s tour manager, Bob Bonis, who carried his Leica M3 camera everywhere, capturing pockets of wonderfully candid private moments tucked beneath the band’s overscheduled, overexposed public selves.

In 1964, The Beatles boarded their charter jet at Seattle-Tacoma airport, heading to Vancouver for their first-ever Canadian concert, and the fourth in their first American tour, at the Empire Stadium on August 22.

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

George Harrison and Ringo Starr get ready to go onstage in Detroit on August 13, 1966

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

George Harrison and John Lennon at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, August 21, 1966

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

George Harrison tunes up backstage at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium on August 16, 1966, in what was the first concert to ever be held at the now-iconic venue

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

Ringo plays with a toy gun -- allegedly a gift from Elvis Presley -- during The Beatles' stay at British actor Reginald Owen's Bel Air mansion in Los Angeles while on their 1964 U.S. tour

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

While on stage at Bloomington's Metropolitan Stadium on August 12, 1965, George Harrison turns around to face Bonis and gives him a warm thumbs-up

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

The Beatles begin the last tour they'd ever go on in Detroit, August 13, 1966

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

John Lennon in Portland, Oregon, on August 22, 1965

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

After the Vancouver shows, The Beatles flew to Los Angeles, only to find their reservation cancelled when the Ambassador Hotel was overrun by Beatlemaniacs. British actor Reginald Owen stepped in, offering them his Bel Air mansion for $1,000

Image courtesy of NPR / 2269 Productions, Inc. / NotFadeAwayGallery.com

Bonis, a man of honor and loyalty, felt wrong about capitalizing on his unprecedented access, so for 40 years his photos remained a rare treat for his friends and family only. He passed away in 1992, and almost two decades later, his son Alex decided it was time to share his father’s collection with the thousands of Beatles fans around the world in The Lost Beatles Photographs. We’re glad he did.

via NPR

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25 MARCH, 2011

An Ode to the Brain: TED + Carl Sagan, Autotuned

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Between our deep love for TED, our fascination with music and the brain, and our soft spot for remix culture, it’s hard not to fall for An Ode to the Brain by John Boswell of Symphony of Science fame — an ingenious autotune remix of footage from various TED talks, Discovery Channel programming, Carl Sagan documentaries and other fine purveyors of neuroscience insight.

For our very own remix tribute to TED, do revisit our TEDify side project.

Thanks, Chris

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25 MARCH, 2011

East Meets West: From Mao to Mozart

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What Chairman Mao has to do with The Academy Awards and extracting passion from the cello.

It’s been a big week for music here at Brain Pickings. We started with 7 must-read books about music, emotion and the brain, then bowed before the deeply inspiring YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which brought together 101 of the world’s most talented amateur classical musicians in one remarkable performance, followed by a fascinating look at how musicians experience emotion. Today, we turn to a powerful testament to the cross-cultural power of music and a bridge-builder and heart-opener.

In 1979, shortly after the death of Chairman Mao, China reopened its doors to the West and the Chinese government invited iconic American violin virtuoso Isaac Stern to visit for a recital. But his visit soon turned into a full-blown goodwill tour, as Stern ended up playing a formal concert, touring two cities and, driven by his overwhelming love of music, teaching a number of classes to Chinese musicians, many of whom children. From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China tells the amazing story of Stern’s journey with beauty and tenderness as these two cultures collide and caress, from the inspirational encounter with a gifted adolescent cellist to the heartbreaking portrait of violinmaker imprisoned for over a year for the crime of crafting Western instruments. Interwoven with the musical story is a fascinating parallel narrative and rare glimpse of the Chinese countryside, culture and people at a pivotal moment in history after the final dismantling of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Stern’s style — passionate, empathic, lived to the bone — comes in stark contrast with the meticulously technical approach of the Chinese, but the warmth of their transformative exchange and the way in which the music brings them together bespeak a universal human language that transcends geography, politics and credo.

Their approach to Western classical music was somewhat limited. They were not accustomed to playing with passion and variety of color. They had an old-fashioned technical approach towards the manner in which they played their instruments, but with an almost instant understanding and reaction to a given musical stimulus, once they were shown what might be done.” ~ Isaac Stern

The film, which won the 1981 Academy Award for best documentary, is now available online in its entirety and we couldn’t recommend it more as your weekend viewing.

The DVD also features a wonderful postcript, Musical Encounters, chronicling Stern’s return to Beijing two decades later as he catches up with Wang, the young cellist, who by that point had made a name for himself as a successful international recording artist.

For a related cross-cultural bridge via classical music, don’t miss Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang’s incredible collaborative performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, which took place exactly two decades after Stern’s visit to China.

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