Mozart in the Jungle

Anyone with Amazon Prime check out "Mozart in the Jungle"? As a recreational violinist (I play in two community/volunteer orchestras) who was never quite professional, I loved that the professional music world was the subject of a drama, even if it's completely ridiculous and soapy.  I know it's based on someone's memoir, the main "Rodrigo" character is clearly Dudamel, but there is a lot that lacks realism, even to me as a non-professional.  (For example, no musicians, no matter how skilled, will have memorized the entire ORCHESTRA part for the 1812 overture).

But I still ate it up, ridiculousness and all. Anyone else?


  • Me too! I alternate between being annoyed that the show totally strains credulity (yeah, uh-huh, you can just walk into an audition for a major symphony orchestra without having an appointment...and barge into the HR department without being escorted out by security...and live in a GIGANTIC apartment with a view of the Empire State Building on a freelance musician's wages) and interested by the hints of what might actually be real (union-conductor scuffles). I want this show to be better than it is, and I want it to do well because I want classical music to get some more attention! (Like you, I am an amateur performer.)

    The half-hour length is also helpful in getting my husband to watch it with me, so there's that.

    Have you read the book? It's now on my Amazon wish list.
  • Nope not yet, but I kind of want to, it might be sort of like reading "The Devil Wears Prada" :)

    I love when they focus on the main character's plight to get ahead in the music world -- how much she truly practices, the scenes where she was taking lessons with the principal oboist, etc.  I don't care as much about the diva conductor, switching programs at moment's notice, bah. Although Bernadette Peters is a treat :)

    I did get a kick out of the scenes in the pit of the really bad rock musical, which I tend to doubt has an oboe part ;)
  • My boyfriend and I had to parcel out the episodes two at a time to make sure we didn't blow through them too quickly! Sure there were a few eye rolls here and there but overall I thought it was terrific. Gael was perfectly cast, and I really liked Malcolm MacDowell as the cranky, bitter former maestro. 

    I hope they make it back for a second season. There's so much potential with the union side of the story--we even started calling the one guy that's a stickler for bathroom breaks Bathroom Bob. 
  • violina23 said:
    I did get a kick out of the scenes in the pit of the really bad rock musical, which I tend to doubt has an oboe part ;)

    And Constantine Maroulis! I have such a soft spot for that one.
  • I am not a musician, and don't even know all that much about classical music, but I LOVE this show!! Watched all the way through in a day or two! 
  • Such a fun show. Particularly the music and culture – not too many TV shows drop classical music references like this!
  • I love this show and I did binge watch it over the holidays--couldn't help myself once I started (I had just gotten a Roku for the first time and it was soooo easy).   I only felt the show dragged a bit in the episode that went to Cuba (although it was nice to have the little travelogue). Am a lifelong classical music fan and live in LA, so knew immediately it was Dudamel.  After all the raves about Transparent, I watched one episode of that show and found it borderline repulsive and really not a comedy, whereas this one grabbed me right away.  Nice to find some other fans here (I'm new to BK but not to Tom and Lorenzo).
  • I would have "liked" all of these posts... Hahahaha. Glad there are other classical music lovers here :) I'm far from professional, but I play in two volunteer orchestras and it's truly my sanity check.

    But yes, for all the inaccuracies i finished the show in a few days, which is pretty telling given I'm a sleep deprived stay at home mom right now :) I couldn't help myself :)
  • Saw the pilot a year ago and just started watching season 1. Up to episode 5 and really enjoying it.
  • I just read it has been renewed for a second season!  I am very excited. I binge watched the first season and wanted more immediately.
  • KarenFK said:
    I just read it has been renewed for a second season!  I am very excited. I binge watched the first season and wanted more immediately.
    Yes! I read this too. Great news :)
  • I have to tell you that my husband is a classical clarinetist and he was in NYC working with the woman, Blair Tindall, who wrote the book "Mozart in the Jungle" during the times she talks about in her book, generally mid-70s to mid-80s.  He says she was only a passingly good oboe player who, as she accurately recounts, basically slept her way to some well-paying gigs.  Her book was incredibly hurtful to many people she had worked with, and who she used as very thinly-veiled characters.  She has basically been shunned by the classical music community ever since it came out.  We have a copy of the book and we use it as a prop for a broken window in our 100-year-old house; it's been rained on many times, the color from the cover & binding has run onto the pages, and it's all warped, but who cares?  It pains us and many of our friends that she is actually making money off this so-called "exposé".  Amazon is going to pay her anyway, and I suppose it is never a bad thing to get actors some work, but this book & show are earning her blood money.
  • It's fun. Fantastic cast Big fan of Bernadette Peters too. Glad has been renewed, i binged through it in record time!
  • I've never heard of this show until now. Is there any way to get it besides Amazon?
  • @SamDarcy I doubt it, because the series itself is made by Amazon (a la OITNB and Netflix).
  • Another binge watching confession, I loved this series!  Enjoyed everyone's insights, I would have 'liked' all your posts.  Well, Nurse Ellens 'like' would have been a sad one, I am sorry to hear that about the author.  I think they did a wonderful job casting, there are some outstanding actors in this show.
  • I watched the first season, and LOVED Bernadette Peters, (She was one of the best parts of Smash too).  
    It has some potential to be a good show, hopefully the writing will improve and character development, because for now, they all seem to be so basic in ways. 

    It was a show that you could watch for entertainment and not have to really "think".  

    Has very good potential. 
  • edited March 2015
    I"m a professional violinist, and as NurseEllen indicated up there, classical musicians aren't watching this show.  The things it gets wrong, it gets so ridiculously, laughably, unnecessarily wrong that it's hard to overlook.  I admit I haven't watched it, but when I saw a still from it of a violinist playing backwards with the explanation that she's left-handed, I simply couldn't believe the shoddiness.  I'm a left-handed violinist.  I play the normal way.  I also drive the right way.  And the computer I'm typing on is QWERTY, not YTREWQ.  All classical violinists play with the bow in their right hand, unless they have suffered a disfiguring accident to their left-hand fingers.  ( I know one violinist who plays backwards.  He lost his fingertips in an accident.  He's actually right-handed.)  Any musician could have told them this, but, unfortunately, they don't appear to employ a music consultant.  I know everyone is an expert at something, and this probably seems arcane to many of you, but this was a major plot point, and no one who had anything to do with it could be bothered to point it out.  Shoddy.
  • edited March 2015
    I get it/ There are certain things I know a lot about that when it's wrong in a film or tv it drives me round the bendI believe Blair Tindal served as the shows music consultant so to a point they did have one, perhaps not one who's versed in violin. I don't know, my background is in brass. 
  • @MelVT: One of the most famous musicians to compensate for a hand injury was the great Django Reinhardt, who managed to play INCREDIBLE jazz guitar with only 3 fingers on his right hand.  Leon Fleisher the pianist, of course, lost the use of his right hand for many years and became a great champion of music for the left hand only.  Can't remember the details but somehow his right hand was healed and now he's back to ambidextrous playing. 

    If Ms. Tindall got something wrong as a music consultant it wouldn't surprise me....and so much for her "I'm a professional!" credibility.

    Bernadette Peters is a fun actress to watch (and listen to) and I imagine she gives her not inconsiderable "all" to this show, but even that can't take the essential stink out of the whole endeavor.
  • Wow, @NurseEllen I didn't know the history of the book or its author. A friend of mine is a professional bassist who was working in NYC for a while, and she hadn't even HEARD of the book or the series, but laughed when I said that I had a feeling professional musicians weren't all sex-crazed drug addicts. I definitely took the whole thing with a grain of salt as fictional melodrama, hopefully the rest of the world does too.
  • edited March 2015
    In terms of the whole lefty violinist thing --- not to sound like I'm defending it, but when I saw it happen in the episode, I was really to call that part out as yet another thing they got wrong,  but then they had a character call it out himself, more like it was a stunt for attention/dramatic effect, not because she was left-handed.  There are TONS of inaccuracies, and I can definitely understand it putting off people who actually make a living in the industry. Like I said, I take it as soapy melodrama, and I think most people who are not musicians at all do too.

    And to add to what @NurseEllen said, Ravel wrote a piano concerto specifically for a pianist who was injured and could only play with one hand, I was in the orchestra with an amazing soloist performing it. It was lots of fun.
  • edited March 2015
    @violina23:  (I know you already know this.  It's more of a public service announcement/rant for people who haven't grown up in this world)  

    That's quite a stunt!  Was she supposed to have turned it around just for giggles?  Violins are not actually symmetrical, so it's not as simple as re-stringing it.  You'd need to fiddle around (oops -- sorry) with the sound post and the bass bar, and god knows what else.  Soloists of a caliber to play as a soloist usually don't own their own million-dollar violins since they could never afford the  insurance, much less the instrument.  Making that kind of change would cause the value of a fancy violin to plummet, I suspect, so no reputable luthier would take on that job.  So I guess she would have had to have had something custom-made.   I've never heard of a really fine mirror-image violin, but ok, I'll play along.  Then she would have to relearn the violin from scratch, since the two hands do completely different things.  Can you imagine just building up the calluses on her right hand?  Or was she supposed to have started backwards when she first picked up the violin?  There is no classical violin teacher of any reputation who would allow a student to do that.  It's a big world, so I know there is probably an exception or two, but no one would ever do that without a really good reason.  There are of course fabulous backwards-playing fiddlers and jazzers and Gypsy musicians, but the classical world just can't accommodate them.   For every left-handed classical violinist, there must be 10 one-eyed ones, stabbed by their stand partner's bow going the wrong way.  I posted that picture of her playing backwards on my FB page and my musician friends were falling all over themselves laughing.

    So yeah, I know they tried to cover themselves  with that comment about its being a stunt.  But there were 20 extras sitting there during the filming, all of whom were real violinists, and the fact that no one who had anything to do with the show cared enough or felt free enough to call bullshit on that is what I meant when I said it was shoddy.  

    I'm going to shut up now.
  • edited March 2015
    Hahaha, no I hear ya. It's funny because that's a common thing people ask me -- if lefties play the other way. And I explain that no, we all learn to play the same way.  And it makes sense because it's a very specialized motion in BOTH hands, and really whichever hand you learn it with, you learn the technique. And many people who are not musicians don't understand that bow control/technique requires a LOT of finger control/strength, so it's not just the fingering hand that does a lot of work.

    I'm not sure many of the extras looked like they were real musicians -- when the "stunt" musician winds up throwing a tantrum and leaving the stage, the concert-master winds up taking over and playing the Sibelius concerto (which, I could believe that a concert-master actually knows the solo part, so that was maybe plausible!), and even that level of "fake playing" wasn't terribly up to my standards. I think the main characters, however, were given pretty decent lessons and seem to fake it better than most.

    So, in short, I totally understand the frustration. I think as a non-professional, I just enjoy seeing a TV show set in a world that I was never quite skilled enough to be a part of. Even if it's completely fake and ridiculous. Kinda like the movie "Center Stage" must have felt to real ballerinas, or doctor/lawyers watching medical/law dramas on TV.

    Now I feel a bit dirty about the whole thing though! I guess continuing to watch this show when it comes back might now qualify as a guilty pleasure?
  • I sound like such a curmudgeon, but I actually think the world is a better place when people enjoy things rather than just ragging on them.  I just wish the providers of entertainment would hold up their end of the bargain.  Now, I love The Good Wife with a passion beyond all reason.  And the fact that criminal trials seem to take about 2 hours and need no preparation must drive real lawyers around the bend.  But, as far as I know, they haven't gotten something about the basic fundamentals of the law wrong.   (And please!  This isn't an invitation to tell me I'm wrong about that!  I need my guilty pleasures, too.)
  • Wait, what?! I have not been binge-watching this show, so I haven't gotten to the episode y'all are talking about. And now I think I might not bother!
  • It's in the finale... featuring a character that has been defined from introduction as being far from stable.

    Maybe the lawyers who can conduct a trial in 2 hours without any preparation is akin to the musicians in this show who can, apparently, memorize the 1812 overture and randomly play it in a parking lot.  Perhaps this show is the "How to Get Away with Murder" of the music world... so this psychotic woman playing lefty violin is like all those stupid kids bumbling around Analise Keating's house making fools of themselves :-D

    At the very least, maybe the whole thing can stir up some interest in classical music. I was reading some of the comments on the AVClub recaps, real musicians were ripping apart the details, and several people seemed genuinely interested in the music they were performing. Several even said they sought out listening to the Sibelius Violin Concert.
  • I'm a lawyer (used to be a civil trial lawyer) and if I thought too hard about the way the law and trials are portrayed on shows like the Good Wife (a show I adore, by the way), I'd go nuts! So I kind of turn off that part of my brain when I am watching a legal show. But, I have had lots of shows to practice that technique on.

    I totally sympathize with the musicians who can't get past the ridiculousness on this show. I binge watched it and really enjoyed it, but when I recommend it to anyone I always say, "I hear there are some serious issues with the authenticity of the portrayal of musicians and how an orchestra functions but if that won't bother you, it's a lot of fun."
  • I think if you honestly watch anything fictional, if you have knowledge of the subject, you kind of have to tune that part out, otherwise as @KarenFK said, you'd go nuts. It is, after all, a drama, a work of fiction. I can sympathize, there are subjects that pop up on dramas that I know a lot about and I know they're doing it wrong or whatever, but I just have to let it go and enjoy the show, or choose not to watch it. 
  • Orchestral musicians actually tend to be really interesting people, so there's no need to resort to making them all sluttish druggies.  I wear two hats (I'm also an MBA-type), and by and large, my musician friends are far better read, are passionate about good food and politics and television and movies, are well-traveled and funny.  They often drink(but never before a rehearsal!), but don't do a lot of drugs.  They're also generally pretty poor, especially for their education level.  And they're incredibly competitive:  my school accepted only one out of 20 applicants (1 out of 200 flutists), and these were people who had gone through the expense and terror of a live audition.  And it gets worse from there.  You wouldn't last long in that world without a ton of discipline.  (I don't.  That's why I have a fallback in the business world.)  Maybe that just doesn't translate very well to the screen.  There certainly haven't been many real attempts to capture that world.  It's easier just to have them ride their cellos down ski hills with James Bond.  (Remember The Living Daylights?)
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