Mar 31, 2008

From BYJ Classics / The Scenes "Mozart's Symphony No.41"

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Symphony No.41 in C major, K.551 “Jupiter” – 4. Molto allegro

London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Although the “movie capital” of the world generally means Hollywood (of L.A. on the west coast of the U.S.), New York (on the east coast) is also a city which has brought forth many movies with distinctive qualities. Director Woody Allen is one of the leading creators of such films. He has created many great works with N.Y. as its backdrop including “Annie Hall”, and continues to do so even today. Although Allen is famous for being an Oscar regular (“Annie Hall” won the awards for "Best Director" and "Best Original Screenplay") he did not attend the Academy Awards Show with the exception of one night. The one time he did show up was at the ceremony held on the following year of the 911 terrorist attacks. Allen made a surprise appearance in a special tribute section, where he introduced a montage of movies filmed in N.Y. It was the most moving scene. I believe films have the role to heal sorrow. If there is even single person who would heal his soul through my works, nothing would please me more as an actor.

(music from "Annie Hall" 1977 / U.S.)

Mar 27, 2008

From BYJ Classics / Hero "Così fan tutte"

BYJ on Wolfang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791):

From the opera
Così fan tutte, K.588 – Act I “Un’aura amorosa” (A Loving Breath)

Hans Peter Blochwitz (tenor)
Wiener Philharmoniker
James Levine (conductor)

Mozart depicted the various personalities and desires of man – at times he ridiculed them in a comic manner and ultimately raised it to the level of art. Although the libretto of this opera is not written by Mozart himself, what gave life to the characters and created the drama is definitely his music. If I had a career as an opera singer, I would no doubt perform in his works, and would have been moved by the experience. The title “women are like that (così fan tutte)” (I beg your pardon me if it seems like I am teasing you ladies) in fact depicts the truth that although human beings regardless of sex yield to small temptations at times, that is the very reason life is joyous, and we come to think about various matters through these experiences. Every aria is rich in nuance, each word too fascinating to be overlooked.

Mar 24, 2008

From BYJ Classics / Hero "Ein Heldenleben"

From BYJ Classics / Hero
Special Edition

BYJ on Richard Strauss (1864-1949):
Ein Heldenleben, Op.40 – Der Held

(A Recording by Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Herbert von Karajan)

When I listen to various works of classical music, what often comes to my mind is, “what kind of personality does this composer have?” I know very little about Richard Strauss. By listening to this magnificent piece called “Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life)” I imagine this composer having an ambitious dream of his own, and his working fervently towards it. Some people say that this piece is a self portrait of Strauss, and being only in his thirties at the time, he composed it envisioning his own life. If that is so, I think his life was a most happy one, blessed with a good partner (wife) and great zeal for composition. Listening to this “Hero”, I too dream about my life down the road. I feel joy and happiness when I contemplate on my personal life together with my life as an actor.
(Maestro Seikyo Kim gave the following story on Strauss in his blog:
Strauss confided to his friend, the writer Romain Rolland, "I am not a hero. I do not have the strength to be one. I do not want to fight, I just want to live a quiet and peaceful life.")

Mar 19, 2008

Why People Are Attracted to BYJ

Excerpt from an essay by Kang Hi Bong from the magazine "I Love Korean Dramas!" No.10
As long as we consider ourselves unhappy, our power to receive the charm emitted from BYJ is weak. Because, to preserve the happy image given by BYJ in one’s hearts, we need to have the foundation to see ourselves in a positive way.

Perhaps people who consider themselves unhappy are seeking for something more tangible than an enigmatic image.

However, although it is natural to possess a desperate yearning to see BYJ in person, it is not necessarily the best thing. What is more important is to have a positive attitude of ourselves, for continuing the journey with the image we have conceived in our hearts. It gives us great comfort just to think that we are not alone.

As for myself, I would like to treasure the image of BYJ I have in my heart. This image belongs to me. Though there is only one BYJ, depending on how people perceive him, the number of images is infinite. Mine is just one of them, but it is a one and only image.

(Kang Hi Bong, the editor of the magazine “I Love Korean Dramas” is a second generation Korean in Japan. His essays analyzing why we are attracted to BYJ has been compiled into two volumes.)

Mar 18, 2008

Conductor Seikyo Kim and His Camera

This is an excerpt from an interview by Maestro Seikyo Kim (who conducted the orchestra for the "April Snow" event at Saitama Super Arena, and will also conduct the BYJ Classics Concert next month), for the Ricoh (Japanese camera brand) website.
(photo is also from the same site.)

Interviewer: I would like to ask you a bit about your work. Being a conductor, do you listen to a lot of classical music in your daily life?

Seikyo: No, I don’t listen to it much at home. I try not to listen to it, including my own recordings --- actually, this came naturally, and it has been this way for some time now. Although I do install everything I think that would be useful in iTune, so I can listen to it any time it’s necessary. But it’s more in the way of “reference” for my work, rather than “appreciating” music for its own sake.

At home, I have a lot of jazz playing on my stereo – especially by the pianist Yutaka Shiina. I collaborated with him in the past, and I really like his music.
I: Is it since you became a professional conductor that you have come to listen to less classical music?

Seikyo: No, I listened to it a lot even after I became a conductor. It’s probably in the past one or two years that I’ve stopped listening to it. It got to the point that my mind was always filled with music and I was always in the frame of mind for work. It became difficult to shift gears for me. From that perspective, because the world of digital cameras is a totally visual one, it is useful for me in switching modes.

When I am in the state of concentrating on music for work the whole time, I am so saturated with music that my visual senses become neglected. I am less moved when I see things. Then, I would be inclined not to notice all the beautiful things the world is filled with. I thought this is a waste. This is what led me to take photographs. Taking photographs helps me shift to a different mode.

I: Obviously, your sensitivity is essential for your work. So, I guess you try to condition your senses (by doing what you just explained).

Seikyo: I think you can say that. And once I started, it didn’t take long to become passionate about my camera (laughs).

(my previous post on what the maestro thought of BYJ:

Mar 8, 2008

Ordering BYJ Classics

(photo from brokore site)

Our dear sister tomato has provided the following information on how to buy the new BYJ CLASSICS CD.

HMV Japan

You may also want to try writing to BOF International.
Contact :


Mar 4, 2008

Fumi-ssi on Korean Culture and BYJ's Talent as an Actor

Originally posted on JOB on Feb.25, 2008

Hello everyone. I think you remember Yong Joon himself claimed, “I do not have the ‘ki’ as an actor.” I explained the meaning of this ‘ki’ a few times in the past, but it is a word that is difficult to explain.

(flowerbossa's note: pls refer to my previous post

In Korea, there is a traditional genre of music called Samul nori. It is performed with a few instruments such as the janggu (a traditional portable drum) and jing (another traditional instrument). I would think that those of you who are interested in Korean culture have had the chance to see this. Incidentally, an artist by the name of Kim Duk-soo is famous for the performance of Samul nori.

I once heard something like this from an expert of this area.

“The Korean Samul nori traditionally did not have rules or patterns, and was performed according to the artists’ feeling. For this reason, it was impossible to perform the authentic Samul nori when one did not have ‘ki’ (natural talent). It was Kim Dak-soo who established the rules, patterns and score for this genre and by doing so, ordinary people without special talent became capable of playing this music. The number of groups that came to perform Samul nori increased, and it was also introduced abroad. I think Kim Dak-soo’s achievements in giving this art a form for the purpose of making it more accessible should be evaluated highly. However, I want to make it clear that it is not the authentic Samul nori.”

I thought what he said explains some aspects of the traditional Korean culture. Taking the gardens for example, unlike the Japanese or English gardens, the characteristic of the Korean gardens (as seen in the Jongmyo Shrine) is something that is “removed from nature in its original form to the home, with nothing added by man.”

I think there is a part in Korean culture that dislikes formalization. Perhaps you can say that traditionally, our culture has always valued ‘ki’ (the talent in that particular field). (To add, Korean Confucianism abhorred and denied embellishments. I believe that is why we have come to appreciate and value things which are natural, art that is created naturally through a genius who do not depend on formalized styles, born musicians who perform by feeling without scores etc.)

Today, in terms of actors too, I think we tend to regard people with natural talent, in other words, actors with ‘ki’ higher than those who strive to improve their craft. In Korea that is. As YJ himself said, I think few people consider YJ a “genius” as an actor

But here is my opinion. Just who among the Korean actors can be called a genius – who possesses the so called ‘ki’? Personally, Moon Sori always came to my mind in terms of a talented actress with ‘ki’. I do not think YJ is a genius as an actor. However, I would like to ask everyone (who is not a fan of YJ) - do you think your favorite actor is a genius?

I personally cannot come up with any Korean male “to be a born actor (someone who really has ‘ki’).

Therefore, ‘ki’ in the true sense means an innate talent as an actor, and in reality, it means someone with the personality cut out for an actor.

There are many actors in Korea who I think are cut out to become an actor, but I can’t think of anyone who is a true genius. This of course is my opinion.

In YJ’s case, his personality is not really cut out for an actor, nor is he a genius. So, I agree with what YJ said about himself that he does not have ‘ki’.

But, in Korean culture and in everything else, what is most important is soul.

It can be beauty of form, effort, or whatever, but in order to exert effort of a significant amount, you need soul, and works and performances which are created with a significant amount of effort is penetrated with soul.

This is what I think.

What traditional Korean culture really demands is not a genius but soul. And very rarely there are those who are blessed with this soul from heaven, but it is basically something that is born through effort.

Form is created so that people who are not geniuses are able to attain a certain level, and the beauty of form is brought forth through effort.

Because YJ is not a genius, it is through his strenuous effort that he shows us the finished beauty of form, and the beautiful world that it expresses. There lies soul- everything is penetrated with soul when an extraordinary amount of effort is exerted for it, and we who feel this soul are moved.

On the other hand, we can be moved by something a genius created in just 10 minutes.

Koreans tend to favor geniuses.


I ask, please show me a genius.
There aren’t any.
I like YJ.
He’s no genius.
But what has he taught me?
That effort brings forth soul.
Soul moves me more than a genius does. A genius impresses me too. But I cannot determine who among the Korean actors is a genius.

That is why I like YJ. I like him even more for being a man who frets over not being a genius. That’s right, you are not a genius. But, you move me with your effort, and the soul that is a product of that effort. I would like to enjoy the performance of a genius too, but I cannot acknowledge any. So…. we come to the conclusion that Bae Yong Joon, there is only you.

This was fumi, thinking I must continue to analyze the soul of Yong Joon.

(from flowerbossa:
Samul nori is a genre of traditional percussion music originating in Korea. The word samul means "four objects" and nori means "play"; samul nori is always performed with four traditional Korean musical instruments.

from wikipedia)

Mar 1, 2008

Films Chosen for BYJ Classics / The Scenes - Spectacle

1. Richard Strauss’s "Thus Spoke Zarathustra"

(from the film " 2010 : A Space Odyssey")

2. Wagner’s Opera “Die Walkure”
(from “Apocalypse Now”)

3. Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube”
(from “2001: A Space Odyssey”)

4. Stravinsky’s Ballet “The Rite of Spring”
(from “Fantasia”)

5. Wagner’s Opera "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg"
(from “Crisis Express 109” starring Ken Takakura)

6. Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain”
(from “Fantasia”)

7. Holst’s “Planets” Jupiter
(from “The Right Stuff")

BYJ Classics / The Scenes - Art

1. Mahler’s Symphony No.5 in C Minor
(from the film “Death in Venice”)

2. Rossini’s "Barbier di Siviglia"
(from “Fellini 8 1/2")

3. J.S. Bach's Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major BMW 1068
Air for the G String
(from “Se7en”)

4. Mozart’s Symphony No.41 in C Major “Jupiter”
(from “Annie Hall”)

5. Johann Pachelbel's Canon
(from “Ordinary People”)

6. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor Op.125
(from “Nostalghia”)

BYJ Classics / The Scenes - Dramatic

1. Mozart’s Symphony 25 in G Minor K.183
(from the film “Amadeus”)

2. J.S. Bach's Concerto in D Minor for 2 Violins BWV 1043
(from “Music of the Heart")

3. Mussorgsky ‘s “Pictures at an Exhibition”
(from “No Regrets for Our Youth” directed by Akira Kurosawa)

4. Rimsky-Korsakov's “ Scheherazade”
(from “An Officer and a Gentleman”)

5. Mascagni’s "Cavalleria Rusticana"
(from “Godfather Part III")

6. Tchaikovsky’s Overture “1812”
(from “Dead Poets Society”)