LANDOWSKA: UNCOMMON VISIONARY
Produced and Directed by Barbara Attie; Co-produced by Janet Goldwater; Co-directed by Diane Pontius; Edited by Kathleen Soulliere; Music and story adviser: Lesley Valdes; Camera: Peter Brownscombe; Sound Recordist: Emanuel Bastien. (1997, TRT: One hour)
" . . . an extraordinary documentary that has long been overdue. It is devoted to one of the most influential and creative artists of this century—harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Watching this film is at once a
stimulating and inspiring experience."
—John Ardoin, The Dallas Morning News, Feb. 2, 1998
" . . . everyone interested in the harpsichord, in early music, and in great performing personalities will want to see it."
—Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe, Jan. 23, 1998
One of this century's pioneering female artists, who enchanted Leo Tolstoy and astonished audiences, Wanda Landowska (1879-1959) became internationally celebrated through a combination of passion and ferocious perseverance. Defying convention in both her music and her life, Landowska altered the course of music history with her resurrection of the harpsichord and the music of the 17th and 18th centuries.
LANDOWSKA, UNCOMMON VISIONARY, a one-hour documentary, spans the arc of her life, from mischievous girl in Poland with "a mad desire to be famous," to rebellious student in Berlin involved in a scandalous love affair, to "old Jewess crazy about music." Landowska's dramatic life-story is played out amidst the upheavals of 20th century history. Forced to flee Nazi-occupied France, she arrived in New York with her long-time companion, Denise Restout, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. At the age of 62, Landowska rebuilt her life and career in the United States, performing to wildly enthusiastic audiences and completing monumental recording projects.
Called "informative and entertaining" by Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times, the documentary resonates with Landowska's music—vintage and re-mastered recordings of Bach, Scarlatti, Couperin, and others. We see and hear Landowska giving aggressive, dazzling performances of the music she adored, demonstrating why no one ever listened to a harpsichord in quite the same way after hearing her play.
Appearing in the program are Denise Restout, Doda Conrad, Jack Pfeiffer, William F. Buckley Jr., Alice Cash, Larry Palmer, Laurence Libin, Willard Martin, Skip Sempe, Orlando Cole and Madeleine Mangin.
"...if you are ready to fall in love with a protofeminist who died at 80 in 1959, then spend the hour with your TV or set your VCR. This program is a keeper."
—Elizabeth Zimmer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 14, 1999
"Maybe a time will come again when artists of such integrity and verve move generations in the way Landowska did. In the meantime, this documentary reminds us that it's possible."
—Haskins, American Record Guide, May/June 1998