The Legend of 1900

Read the description for this movie last Saturday: an orphan spends his entire life aboard an ocean liner as a piano prodigy.

Do what?

How did a baby wind up orphaned on an ocean liner in 1900? What a silly premise for a movie.

Then I watched it. Two and half hours later, with tears streaming down my face, I watched the retired ship burst into flames as it was imploded and sunk.

And I got it.

If you haven’t seen this movie, find it. If you love music, piano in particular, find it NOW. The score was written by Ennio Morricone, world-famous composer of movie scores for over 50 years, I suppose. If you’ve seen, or heard, “The Mission”, then you know his music.

The last movie that touched me musically in this way was “Somewhere in Time.” Yes, it’s a syrupy love story / time travel thing, but the music…..Rachmaninoff and Morricone. It doesn’t get better.

The first time I heard Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini it was by accident. I bought an LP of his works, looking for a piano concerto movement, but I didn’t which concerto it came from. So I put this album on the stereo and sort of half-way listened to the music. It was just ok at first, then the very “russian march” variation came out of the speakers and grabbed my attention, demanding to be heard. Next came the Deus Irae…how did that get in there? Then the music turned all misty, eerie, like it was wandering through fog-shrouded woods at sunset. The key shifted from minor to major, the sun came out, and there it was….the 18th variation. In all the world, I don’t believe there’s a single piece of music any more breathtaking than this one. It’s not very long, maybe a minute or two, but when it drew to a close I was on the floor of my parents’ living room sobbing. This is what I wanted.

But I knew I wouldn’t get there. It was out of my reach. Maybe I could have tried it then; certainly not now.

Then, last Saturday, I heard “Playing Love” from The Legend of 1900, music by Ennio Morricone.

And I sobbed again.

Immediately I came in here and started crawling all over the ‘net looking for it, and discovered that there were lots of  other pianists crawling around the ‘net looking for it too. But it was just out of my grasp. I’d find references to it, only to discover broken links.

Until I tripped over a website in China, dedicated to sharing Morricone’s muic. Yes, they had the piano score, free. But you had to e-mail them to get it.

E-mail someone I dont’ know in China, to get music I really wanted. How do I know this is really a site that supplies music? There were a couple of links to .pdf files of other pieces so I grabbed those. And they were good. There’s a very sultry rag (sounds incompatible, but it works) written by Jelly Roll Morton, a historical character who is instrumental to 1900’s plot.

But, do I dare e-mail them for the rest of the score? Most of the site is in Chinese, for heaven’s sake! Even after you hit the translate button. I debated over it with myself, and after several hours of negotiating, decided to give it a shot.

Obviously, my computer still works, so I didn’t get wormed or virused or anything. But, no music either. I figured, what the heck, it was a shot in the dark anyway, no harm no foul.

Monday I got an email from someone named HAN, in badly translated english, that said “Dear Lady…” and had a link to a site where I could download the score.

My computer still works, the score is in a new folder called music/legend of 1900, and two of the pieces are fresh of my printer.

Think I’ll go play.


4 responses to “The Legend of 1900

  1. I saw “The Legend of 1900” when it first came out ten years. I was terrific. I just checked on Netflix to see if they have it. They do so I’m getting it again.

    One of the few soundtracks I’ve ever bought was Morricone’s “The Mission.”

    It sounds like you have the same taste in movies (and music) as me so, if ever you’ve got a movie tip, please let me know.

    Have you seen Eroica?

  2. No, but I saw Immortal Beloved a couple of weeks ago and loved it. Netflix rocks.

    I’ll check out Eroica. I might need to buy it, though….

    Can’t think straight on anything else interesting, not enough caffeine yet.

  3. Immortal Beloved was great. Netflix does have Eroica.

  4. Hi,

    I too am looking for the sheet music for Playing Love. I’d also love to have a go at the rag as well.

    Could you send me the files please?

    many thanks,

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