If imitation is the greatest form of flattery than 19th century pianist and composer Frederic Chopin has a lot to feel flattered by. The wealth of his compositional language has been a source of great inspiration to artists since his death in 1848, but a rather unusual homage came about in 1950 when song writers Bob Russell and Paul Weston teamed up to pen a song entitled No Other Love for the popular singer (and Paul Weston's wife) Jo Stafford. I call it an homage because the song is essentially Frederic Chopin's Opus 10 Number 3 Etude for solo piano reset to feature orchestration and Bob Russell's lyrics. Released in 1950, the song reached all the way up to number 10 on the Billboard charts but has been seeing a resurgence of interest today thanks largely to its use in the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's new film The Master.
With all of that in mind, let's take a listening tour beginning with renowned pianist Garrick Ohlsson's performance of the original Chopin composition.
Garrick Ohlsson: Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 3
To my ear, the original is a piece of stunning beauty and I marvel of at the simplicity of melody, harmony, and Ohlsson's fluid phrasing and rich tone. This is the kind of composition and performance that for me is life affirming. Listening to this piece is like getting a musical hug, and every now and then, everyone needs a hug. Flash forward 117 years and we land at the Jo Stafford recording below. The recording begins with the piano harmonies from the Chopin before Jo enters with the melody. If you're looking for direct melodic quotes from the original composition you'll have to listen for the counter melodies in the piano under the vocal line, or wait for the instrumental section about halfway through the song. Check it out.
Jo Stafford: No Other Love
Finally, we arrive at the song's use by Paul Thomas Anderson today. It's not surprising the this song was used so elegantly by a film director because the song already sounds like a movie. It's a perfect fit for it time and place here. Well done P.T.A. for recognizing this and using it to fill out your work so beautifully. You can hear the song used in the trailer below, it enters in the final third of the clip. Enjoy.
The Master Trailer:
Haven't had enough? It just so turns out that TWD writer Steve has recently written a short novel about the relationship between music and film in Paul Thomas Anderson's work. You can find all of those articles here. You dig?