It’s no wonder Ethan Hawke fell in love with Seymour. 88 Year old piano teacher Seymour Bernstein is quite an unusual subject for a documentary. A well-regarded concert pianist in the 50s and 60s, Bernstein stop performing because of his stage fright. Now, he lives alone in a small Manhattan apartment and takes great joy in teaching and being a mentor. We meet some of his former students. The relationship the affable, soft-spoken Bernstein maintains with his pupils, whether they are sitting at a restaurant reminiscing about the past or during a lesson, tell us millions about artists and the connections they have with their art and their instruments. For Seymour, music is everything. So the close contacts he has with those pupils, who see in music the same things he does, helps him a great deal in life. We know next to nothing about his private life. We know that he was traumatized by his time fighting at the Korean war, but not much else. I felt privileged being allowed to watch Seymour during a master class, where we see his respect, immense love for his students, plus the relentless attention to details that is the sure sign of a great mentor, a master. And then, there is the scene of Seymour Bernstein playing Schubert and Schumann at a comeback concert that is closing the film. All we can say is “Wow!”. A great artist indeed. A lesson in life, art and cinema.
Seymour: An introduction