The "Rach 3" and the flow of prestige

Is it the movie or the music that should be honored?

Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff

This coming weekend is the penultimate concert in the Jacobs Masterworks Series at the San Diego Symphony.

The concert features the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 — the "Rach 3" as it was referred to in the movie Shine. This brings up an interesting topic.

Whenever a movie is made involving classical music we tend to talk about it as if classical music has been honored by the movie, as if having a movie made about it validates the music in some way. It’s almost as if we’re thinking, “Oh, how lucky it is to have a movie made that uses classical music.”

Does Apocalypse Now add prestige to The Ride of the Valkyries or is Wagner loaning some of his prestige to Francis Ford Coppola? Who is benefitting in having Rhapsody in Blue as the opening to Manhattan — Gershwin or Woody Allen?

Isn’t it the music that is inspiring the movie? Shouldn’t we think the movie is lucky to have classical music as its inspiration?

Whatever the case may be, there will also be a Rachmaninoff in the Key of Jazz concert on Thursday before the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Masterworks Concerts. The description of the Thursday affair looks interesting, as Nuvi Mehta, San Diego Symphony outreach speaker, will host an exploration of the influence of American Jazz on Russian music. They will also take a peek at how the brain functions with regard to jazz as opposed to classical music.

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