6.9/10
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2 user 8 critic

Speaking in Strings (1999)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 28 January 1999 (USA)
This real-life documentary explores the passionate & energetic presence of renowned Italian violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (she moved to the Unites States at the age of eight to study ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg ... Herself
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This real-life documentary explores the passionate & energetic presence of renowned Italian violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (she moved to the Unites States at the age of eight to study at The Curtis Institute of Music and later studied with Dorothy DeLay at The Julliard School.) The film focuses on her professional life, starting in 1981, when she burst onto the classical music scene as the youngest (at 17) recipient ever of the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. Written by Len Massaar

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28 January 1999 (USA)  »

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I found Speaking in Strings to be an innovative film that explored the emotional intensity of a virtuoso performer.
8 October 1999 | by See all my reviews

Speaking in Strings by director Paola di Florio explores the posh and cloistered world of classical music by presenting us with the "bad girl" of the classical music scene. In this film, Florio reveals the hypocrisy of classical music by revealing to us one of its most profound players, Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg and all that the violinist endured in order to play the music she loves with total honesty.

Sonnenberg lets it all hang out in the film as her most private and vulnerable moments are shown in an expose fashion that is painful and rarely pretty. Sonnenberg shares her most painful and horrific moments in the film, everything from her bout with severe depression, to an injury to her finger that could have ended her career to her plight with a stalker who wanted to create the perfect race with her.

While it's true that Sonnenberg's willful and strong personality has provoked criticism among music critics and classical music audiences, it is this same strong will that has helped Sonnenberg survive many hardships in her personal and professional life.

What the filmmaker Florio has done through a compilation of interviews, archival concert footage, and Sonnenberg's television appearances is to show the rest of the world what classical music soloist endure in order to create music that is under appreciated in the United States. However, by revealing the story of one controversial performer, perhaps classical music can reach a new audience or at least garner attention from the same film audience that saw the film Hilary and Jackie. Speaking in Strings proves to be more provocative than Hilary and Jackie because it lacks pretenses and lets it all hang out.


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