WOSU TV Presents Donald Harris and ‘Sonata (1957)’

Donald Harris, Master Musician and Sly Raconteur(Photo: The Ohio State University)
Donald Harris, Master Musician and Sly Raconteur(Photo: The Ohio State University)

I can’t be impartial about Donald Harris. I love the man. His humanity and his love for music, along with his insistence on high standards and personal dignity move me deeply. He’s also a sly raconteur and a lot of fun.

Eightieth birthday celebrations for Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of Music Donald Harris continue this season. His Second Symphony has its world premiere with the Columbus Symphony and Jean-Marie Zeitouni next April. Last spring’s Contemporary music festival at OSU was devoted to Harris’ music (more on this elsewhere on this blog).  The Festival included Daniel Beliavsky’s film Sonata (1957). Now, this terrific film comes to WOSU TV, on Friday October 28 at 10.30 PM.

Sonata (1957) features Beliavsky’s performance of the complete piano sonata, written by Harris while he was a student of Nadia Boulanger’s in Paris (more about her later). The performance opens up a conversation between pianist and composer, and goes on to an extended visit with Harris and two of his colleagues: Veronica Jochum von Moltke and Gunther Schuller. One a distinguished pianist and pedagogue and daughter of the conductor Eugen Jochum, the other a musical everyman, jazz expert, composer, teacher and administrator. Between the three of them there’s quite the chat about music in the 21st century. Harris couldn’t be pedantic or dull if he tried, and neither can his colleagues. Von Moltke looks as if she could reach out of the screen and offer you coffee.

Sonata (1957) is a great view of what it is to build a life in music. Beliavsky is a superb pianist and tells the story of one remarkable man in a compelling and entertaining fashion. You can sleep late Saturday.

Don’t miss Daniel Beliavsky’s film Sonata (1957)  on WOSU TV, this Friday at 10.30 PM.