“Viva Maestro”: The Pain and the Glory of Gustavo Dudamel hits theaters

This content was published on April 07, 2022 – 18:56

Xavier Romualdo

Los Angeles (USA), Apr 7 (EFE).- When in 2017 Gustavo Dudamel landed in Caracas with a team of filmmakers to shoot a documentary about his admired career, no one imagined that it would be the last time the musician could return to your country.

“Viva Maestro!”, the film about the charismatic Venezuelan orchestra director, opens this Friday in theaters in the United States as a testimony of a national hero who decides to park his great passion, music, to speak out for the first time against the Government of Nicolás Maduro and assume the consequences.

“We wanted to make a film about Gustavo around the world. What we did not anticipate is that the problems of Venezuela would go from being a kind of backdrop to occupying the foreground of the film,” details the film’s director, Ted Braun, in a interview with Eph.

With a degree of popularity rarely seen in the world of classical music, equaling that of rock stars, Dudamel, director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Paris Opera, spent six years in the lens of this filmmaker’s camera.

More than five years in which Braun and Dudamel toured the planet, from the neighborhoods of Caracas to stages such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, where he, his baton movements and his recognizable curly hair manage to attract the attention of the specialized and occasional public. .

Considered one of the most important musicians in the world, Dudamel began recording this tape while facing the same Venezuelan political sector that elevated him as the prodigal son of its social programs.


“The first place that Gustavo suggested to shoot was in Caracas in February 2017. It was perfect to start, with the orchestra with which he had grown up. Friends of 12 or 13 years old who were now in their 30s recording Beethoven’s symphonies,” he recalls. Braun.

“I thought: ‘If we can record him rehearsing the four most popular notes in the history of classical music, everyone will feel oriented,’ adds the filmmaker.

But disorientation soon set in.

In March of that year, a serious institutional crisis arose in Venezuela after the Supreme Court extended Maduro’s powers and suppressed the powers of the National Assembly, which caused a wave of strongly repressed protests.

The death during a demonstration of a young violinist from the orchestra he directed led the musician to publish a letter in which he criticized, for the first time, the Venezuelan government.

Maduro did not hesitate to attack Dudamel, possibly the most important cultural export of his country, and canceled the international tour that the director was preparing with the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela.

“It’s a transforming moment for him -says Braun-. It changed his life, his bond with the orchestras he directs and with his native country”.


“Long live Master!” It affects the contrast that Dudamel supposed to go from the idealism in which he was formed, where culture by itself was an element of social change, to political repression.

But the film also serves to understand his love for the National System of Youth Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela, the revolutionary development plan that brought classical music closer to the underprivileged classes. Its founder, José Antonio Abreu, discovered Dudamel there and was later his mentor.

“He loves the power of music, its ability to change a child’s life, because it changed him,” insists the filmmaker.

Between concert and recital, the camera records Dudamel during his classes at the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA), the program he created to bring classical music closer to the popular neighborhoods of California.

At the end of the classes, the musician insists to the camera that “he is not giving anything back”, that he is the one who wins by infecting himself with the passion of young people.

And then he shows up back in Europe to be greeted like a rock star.

“Gustavo was fascinating. I had never done a movie that focused on one individual and after meeting him I thought, ‘My God, this guy could star in an entire movie,’” concludes Braun. EFE

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