In the all-time classic Oscar winning FROM MAO TO MOZART, violinist Isaac Stern says: "The best way to learn about another culture,is to and meet practitioners of one's own profession." And so, in 1979, he undertook a trip to China as an official guest of the government to give concerts, travel the countryside, and "say hello with music." Filmmaker Murray Lerner documented the events of this trip on celluloid, and the resulting movie won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Stern is vaguely reminiscent of Burt Lahr, the comedian forever known as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, a round, jolly-faced man with a generous smile. The more surprising to see him act with serious determination. When Stern gives lessons to young Chinese violinists and corrects the Peking Symphony Orchestra, the nice chubby uncle from America image is gone. Stern, by now a legendary violinist and considered one of the 20th Century masters of the violin, is an artist taking his art very, very seriously.
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