Monday, 20 July 2009


“Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind.” – Juvenal

We watched Gérard Corbieau’s 1989 film “Le Maître de Musique” (The Music Teacher) at the weekend. This was a sumptuous French film for classical music lovers and although the plot was thin, the music and cinematography more than made up for it. Corbieau’s other forays into cinema have explored music and arts and his famous 1994 “Farinelli” and his “Le Roi Danse” also adhere to the genre.

In this film, the ageing Joachim Dallayrac, a famous and brilliant concert singer retires from the stage and retreats to his countryside mansion. He takes on the talented Sophie in order to teach her the singer’s art. He also brings Jean, a petty thief, into the household because he hears him singing and detects a wonderful voice. The relationships that develop are complex and involve as well as Joachim his partner, Estelle, Sophie and Jean. After rigorous and harsh training, Sophie and Jean manage to attain a standard that pleases their teacher. The two young singers are then invited to participate in a singing contest staged by Prince Scotti. Scotti himself was defeated in a singing contest by Dallayrac and Scotti is acing for revenge. Scotti’s protégé is set up to exact this revenge through the way that Scotti has organised the contest.

The music in the film is absolutely marvellous and performed well. It is also well chosen and underlines the plot. For example, Gustav Mahler’s (1860-1911) lied “Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen” is associated with the teacher. The lyrics translate as: “I am lost to the world with which I used to waste so much time. It has heard nothing from me for so long it may well believe me dead… …I live alone in my heaven, in my love, and in my song”. In the climax of the film, “Sempre Libera”, the wonderful duet from Verdi’s “La Traviata” is used to great effect, sung by Sophie and Jean, who up till then have not sung together.

The cinematography of the film is one of its strengths and beautiful scene succeeds beautiful scene, with glowing colours and exquisite visual composition. I can easily imagine, however, someone who doesn’t like classical music finding the film tedious and boring. We certainly enjoyed it and would recommend it to fellow music lovers.

You may like to visit Dangerous Meredith's blog, who has also posted some films she has seen and recommends...


  1. This was a beautiful film. The music was fabulous and the images wonderful. Most highly recommended.
    Good to join you here, Nicholas!

  2. Thanks for the plug for my blog Nicholas!
    I am a sucker for good lieder, choral music or opera so I think I would enjoy this film and will definitely keep an eye out for it.
    The Melbourne International Film festival is about to kick off. Are you keen on anything in it?