musical score excerpt I keep coming back to creativity in old age (1). I see creativity and the products of our creative minds and spirits as a major component of why we are going through this particular life. While there are more components to our lives and not everyone seeks creative expression but those who do have a lot tied up it.

Over the last eighteen months, I have been writing, producing, directing and editing a 96-minute, feature film that will be released in early Spring 2015. I consider that to be my creative endeavor and I’m grateful that I can still do such projects as the age of 70 draws near.

I am reminded of a very real concern that we all have as age and its associated consequences march on. That concern is the loss of the ability to do one’s creative expression. I’ve written before about people who held onto their creativity in spite of impairments and who found ever increasing creative options. For example, Matisse who switched to collage (paper constructions) at the end of his life when confined to a wheelchair. He felt these, gouaches découpés, were the culmination of his creative processes (2).

Music has been on my mind recently. My film is at the stage in post production where the musical score is being written and the composer and I are engaged in the process of mating music with images and dialog. Today, my thoughts followed this music theme to movies about musicians at the ends of their careers and how they deal with the changes.

Two movies come to mind: Quartet and The Last Quartet.

Quartet, both a play and a film (3, 4), deals with four retired musicians, singers actually. They live in a retirement home and every year the residents present a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday. These four want to participate but find their singing voices are not up to the task. They do a great deal of soul searching and in the end they do perform at the concert. However, as an adaption to age, they do so by lip-syncing to a previous recording of themselves when they were at their prime.

The Last Quartet is different. “After a classical string quartet’s 25 years of success, Peter, the cellist and oldest member, decides that he must retire when he learns he has Parkinson’s Disease”(5). The film focuses on how Peter deals with his retirement from the group and the various ways in which the other members respond. It reminds us of how our lives become intertwined with those whom we work as well as family.

Time spent with these films is productive. One of the strengths of film is how it opens issues, shows how various people respond and allows us to examine our own thoughts and feelings. More pedantic methods (lecture, formal seminars, etc.) rarely allow such freedom to form our own strategies and understandings.


  1. See earlier blogs: Art and Death and Creativity and Choices.
  2. Henri Matisse: Paper Cut Outs (gouaches découpés). Accessed at
  3. Quartet (1999, play) by Ronald Harwood is available for performance from Samuel French (
  4. Quartet (2012, film). Written by Ronald Harwood and directed by Dustin Hoffman.
  5. A Late Quartet (2012). Directed by Yaron Zilberman.

Image Source: Portion of the score from Theme from Impasse (2010) by Jason M. Marion .

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