Everything that is wrong in „Mozart in the Jungle“, Season 3, Episode 9 „Creative Solutions for Creative Lives“

Just when you thought it was safe to watch TV again a new series of „Mozart in the Jungle“ arrives, our favorite show that apparently exists in a parallel dimension to our dimension, a dimension where classical music is incredibly popular, where the stars look good without photoshop and where the audience screams with joy every time a conductor enters a stage.

Season 3 is again loaded with the little inconsistencies and inaccuracies that we have come to love, as screenwriters try desperately to understand the world of classical music and very often get it…completely wrong!

Still, I love the show, and nitpicking these details is a lot of fun, as long as we don’t confuse „Mozart in the Jungle“ with any kind of reality. Here we go again:

watch the episode here


1) 00:45 „A Pumperkanickle scone“ is what Rodrigo actually says (not „Pumpernickle“). Is that some kind of in-joke?

2) Basically the dress that Gloria wears must really hurt her boobs, no wonder she is in such a bad mood.

3) Pembridge gives the premiere of his piece in the hands of his most inexperienced student? And the enthusiasm of the orchestra members for his music is endearing but unrealistic. In fact orchestra musicians are not that keen on conductors who mainly have made a name for themselves as conductors suddenly turning into composers. They would never spontaneously applaud them before the rehearsal but instead go „hmph, let‘s see about that…“.

4) Pemberton as an experienced conductor should know that as a composer you either speak up directly in the rehearsal when something is obviously wrong, or you silently make a list of things to go through with the conductor after the rehearsal. You don‘t „abduct“ the conductor from the rehearsal for an extended length of time, this would be rude. But perhaps Pemberton is just that, nervous as he is.

5) Isn‘t it amazing how much time the nice lady from the bank spends with someone who is obviously mocking her with names of composers and mate gourds? In real life Rodrigo would not even get a meeting…

6) 11:00…oh, these kids and old folks are so eager to „gather round in a circle“ once a man completely unknown to them enters the room and plays some chords on a piano. Even Rodrigo isn‘t THAT charismatic…

7) 14:30 :“the new page 36“ in Pembertons piece would mean that it is a REALLY long piece. There are some evening long operas that have fewer pages in individual parts. Also, nobody seems to have 36 pages on their note stand.

8) In a situation where the composer wants to change things in a composition it is actually always the composer who is „right“, even when he is annoying as Pemberton here. Most conductors would simply try to realize the changes, cursing under their breath.

9) 15:50 If Esther wants to support the „maestro“, why is she leaving the rehearsal? And why is Pemberton so happy about it? It basically means she isn‘t playing the solo part in the piece he is trying to salvage.

10) 16:15 „rewriting a part so somebody else can play it“ can definitely not be done as quickly as Hailey seems to suggest here.

11) 17:11 The whole performance and rehearsal situation portrayed here is kind of ludicrous, but if it really was like that, comments like „you have to play with the blood“ would not help musicians at all in such a situation – organizing their sheet music and concentrating on the changes on a pure technical level would have top priority, not nuances of expression.

12) 19:16 frenetic applause for a song that lasted 15 seconds.

13) 22:41 it‘s kind of embarassing to see an experienced musician like Joshua Bell recite dialogue that he definitely would not say in such a situation, like „it‘s not what you do with your hands, it‘s what‘s inside“. No, Joshua, it is about your hands, because if nobody can understand what you are conducting it simply won‘t work. Also even Joshua would not attempt to play the premiere of a contemporary concertante piece sight-reading it, orchestra musicians might do that, but their parts are usually much simpler than a solo part.

14) The great show in the memory of a great Czech woman composer consists mainly of vaudeville acts, improvised banter and the premiere of an old grumpy British composer. Not exactly women‘s lib going on here.

15) 25:13 Joshua Bell barely looks at the music of a piece he has never seen before and plays it perfectly. That‘s pushing it, folks.

16) And listening to the piece reminds us again that Pemberton should stick to conducting.

17) 26:46 …and the ecstatic face expressions of Hailey have no relation to the music at all (the orchestra musicians would fall from their chairs laughing if anybody did that to that music). Also audience reactions are again completely exaggerated when listening to such an unassuming and unspectacular piece.

Moritz Eggert

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