“The Gambling Man”

June 8, 2012
  • Filmmakers:
    Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet
  • Location:
    West Hartford, CT

For his whole life Alby Hurwit heard music in his head, but when he failed a college music theory exam his dream of  music died. Instead of pursuing a life in music he became a Harvard and Tufts educated doctor—a doctor who healed people throughout his career.

Then, after almost seven decades of listening to the music in his head—over and over again—he decided he had to do something with it. He retired from his successful practice and bought a roomful of computers and keyboards. He decided that even if he had no formal training, he would teach himself how to use these new pieces of technology to somehow translate what was in his head into something that could be heard in the world. Even his wife thought he was crazy.

At the age of 80, he didn’t just write a song—he composed an award-winning symphony. The music in his head was the story of his family—a Jewish family persecuted in Europe who fled to America with the hope of living the American Dream. It is the immigrant story and a story of never giving up hope when everyone around you already has.

Most composers scoff at the idea that someone who still can only write and read music at a 5th grade level could succeed in the world of classical music. Alby’s peers in the medical field—many whom also have a love and dream of making music—are filled with envy at the thought that he could succeed where they have failed. So even though he has achieved one goal, there is much more to prove. The odds are against him but as his story goes—you’re never too old to dream.

Symphony No. 1 “Remembrance”
The Music and Its Story

Movement I (Origins) interweaves moods and themes that describe the changing emotional landscape of my ancestors in their eastward migration from Prague to Russia.

Movement II (Separation) with Klezmer Band memorializes the persecution of my family and others in the pogroms of the late 1800s. The movement starts with saber-wielding Cossacks on horseback terrorizing the villagers. That violent music is suddenly replaced by the message given to my mother and her parents by the family elders: three ascending notes cry out “YOU MUST GO.” The family then recollects the songs and dances they shared. But their reveries are interrupted by the return of the Cossacks, whose threats force the family to separate forever.

Movement III (Remembrance) reflects the family’s sadness, which is voiced in the first theme. This initial theme is subsumed by the second theme, with its expression of compassion and love. The movement ends with intimations that the departing family will survive.

Movement IV (Arrival) heralds the ocean voyage and arrival in America, where the family finds safety and freedom.

For more information: http://www.alberthurwit.com/