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Touching the Sound: The Improbable Journey of Nobuyuki Tsujii (2015)

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Miraculous story of Japanese pianist blind from birth, who has become a symbol of Hope for all those with disabilities, hurdles to overcome, and problems in life. Performing throughout the ... See full summary »

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Nick Asano
Nobuyuki Tsujii
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Miraculous story of Japanese pianist blind from birth, who has become a symbol of Hope for all those with disabilities, hurdles to overcome, and problems in life. Performing throughout the world as a musical ambassador for his country, Nobuyuki Tsujii, or 'Nobu' as he is called by millions on fans with 'Nobu Fever', his is a story about the power of music. Written by Anonymous

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18 April 2015 (USA)  »

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Lending a voice to Nobuyuki Tsujii
10 March 2014 | by (California, U.S.) – See all my reviews

I watched the Peter Rosen film "A Surprise in Texas" in 2010 when my home TV was tuned to PBS for background music. Listening to the soundtrack of that documentary about the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, I was increasingly drawn to the tone of the piano of Nobuyuki Tsujii(Nobu), unaware that the young pianist is blind. By the end of the film, I was standing in front of the TV screen, in tears.

This new documentary is a second look by Peter Rosen at Nobu, four years after the Cliburn competition. Since the gold medal, Nobu has become a superstar in his own country, where he is beloved for his music as well as for his appealing personality.

Outside Japan, however, Nobu is still not widely known, partly because he does not speak English. With excellent subtitles, this film gives those of us who do not speak Japanese a glimpse at what makes Nobu so popular in Japan. We are shown a collage of footage from past Japanese TV documentaries of Nobu and fresh interviews of people close to Nobu, including his mother Itsuko Tsujii, long-time childhood piano teacher Masahiro Kawakami, and tour manager Nick Asano. We also see footage of Nobu in performances in the U.S., the U.K., as well as in the tsunami-torn Tohoku region in Japan. We are shown how his performances affect the audiences.

This film gives us a sense of the support behind Nobu's success and what it is like for someone who is blind to take on the challenges of touring all over the world. It unfolds in a straight-forward manner that mirrors the personality and music of Nobu himself. At the screening that I attended in January 2014, it held the audience spellbound with the compelling story of Nobuyuki Tsujii and his captivating performances, sprinkled with moments of poignancy and humor.

I only wish that there were more exploration of Nobu's inner thoughts. But perhaps that's the subject for yet another documentary.


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