MY GREAT GREAT UNCLE'S MUSIC
Raising Funds to Finish the Documentary
Hello! I'm raising funds to be able to film the climax of my documentary film at Carnegie Hall. Tobias, the cellist in the documentary, will be coming to play his great-great uncle's music on November 10th, 2022. In order to be able to film the event, I need to pay Carnegie Hall $17,255 (plus fees). It's an absurdly high fee! However, after having followed this story for over 3 years, this concert would be the perfect climax to the story. So here we are, putting narrative above all else. What is the story? Good question.
Tobias van der Pals (43) is a cellist who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. When he was 20 years old, he stumbled into an archive filled with mountains of music composed by his great-great uncle, Leopold van der Pals. There were 252 opuses, including 8 operas, 4 symphonies, and hundreds of lieder and sonata. Next to these piles were newspaper clippings showing that 100 years ago, his music was played around the world in all the famous philharmonics - New York, Berlin, Vienna, Stockholm, St. Petersburg. Yet, somewhere along the way, he fell into obscurity, and since there were no recordings of his music, his music died along with him. Tobias could not bear the thought that all this music was lying silent in a dusty archive. He decided to embark on a lifelong project to bring the music back to life.
For the last three years, I've been following Tobias as he goes around the world trying to convince people that his great-great uncle composer is one of the greats. People's first response is usually to roll their eyes and think that Tobias' is biased, blinded by his genealogical connection. Then they take a closer look. In a world as stubborn as the classical music world, Tobias has managed to turn enough heads and make some noisy traction. He's already recorded four albums, pitched one of the operas to the Malmö Opera House, signed with the prestigious publishing company Edition Wilhelm Hansen and toured in concert. And on November 10th, 2022, his journey will reach the summit when he performs Leopold's cello and piano sonata on the world's most renowned stage, Carnegie Hall.
The film will follow Tobias's journey while at the same time telling the story of Leopold van der Pals, whose life story is preserved in raw detail in the diaries he left behind. He wrote routinely, often every day, from when he was 14 years old until his death. He was a man who was born into the highest echelons of Russian aristocracy in St. Petersburg, and died alone, frustrated, and poor in a small Swiss town. His family went from being friends with Tchaikovsky and at the heart of the Russian artistic world, to losing nearly everything during the Red Revolution. After experiencing professional success early on, Leopold moved around Europe and ultimately settled with his family in Dornach, Switzerland to follow the teachings of the esotericist Rudolf Steiner. Like all true artists, he continued to compose music for himself even after his name had completely fallen out of vogue.
The life of the two musicians will intertwine and be in dialogue with one another: as one experiences a decline, the other appears to accumulate more and more success. Yet one cannot exist without the other.
There are all sorts of interesting details in both of their lives, and I'm happy to share more with you. Shoot me a message and I'd be happy to talk more about the project!
You can read more about what makes Leopold's unique music worthy of being revived here: https://www.wisemusicclassical.com/features/2022/09/the-rediscovering-of-leopold-van-der-pals/
And for those curious about why it costs so much to film at Carnegie, it's because there is a union fee called Stage Media of $12,255 on top of a $5,000 digital rights fee. They require all projects to employ the union's services for 4 hours minimum, even in cases like mine where I will be doing all the filming myself.