A documentary portrait of unconventional violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, whose down-to-earth manner frequently put her at odds with the classical music establishment. Sonnenberg talks frankly to the filmmaker a childhood friend who re-established
contact in order to make the documentary about her feelings of being a perpetual outcast, her dramatic career highs and lows, unhappy love life, a potentially career-ending accident and a suicide attempt. Born in Italy and raised in Philadelphia, Salerno-Sonnenberg grew up in a family of
musicians and music lovers. Though a difficult student who disliked practicing, she showed enormous promise as a violinist; winning a major competition in 1981 catapulted her into an international career as a soloist. Inherently dramatic and unfettered in performance, Salerno-Sonnenberg was
praised and criticized in equal parts for her passionate playing and unbridled stage manner, much as cellist Jacqueline Du Pre was two generations earlier. In addition, her outspokenness, chain-smoking and rejection of the classic black dresses and upswept hair that are the virtual uniform of
female musicians made Salerno-Sonnenberg something of a loner among her peers. Filmmaker Paola di Florio includes interviews with Salerno-Sonnenberg, her friends and family, as well as footage of the violinist performing and kicking back offstage in blue jeans and cowboy boots. Among
Salerno-Sonnenberg's revelations are her pursuit by a deranged fan, her attempt to kill herself with the gun she obtained to protect herself from her stalker and the kitchen accident in which she sliced off part of her pinky finger and faced the prospect of never playing again.
Salerno-Sonnenberg's story will be of interest primarily to lovers of classical music, but her determination and resilience should speak to a broader audience.
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: NR
- Review: A documentary portrait of unconventional violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, whose down-to-earth manner frequently put her at odds with the classical music establishment. Sonnenberg talks frankly to the filmmaker a childhood friend who re-establishe… (more)