Beethoven Virus


Reviewed by: sukting

September 17, 2011

Rating: four

Foreword
What happens when a conductor gets tangled in a love triangle with his students.? An orchestra is formed against all odds. Although it requires a lot of hard work to coordinate, the young and old people with different personalities and life experiences gather together under a common dream. They find love and earn each others respect.

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Jiang Jian Yu (Senior) - Kim Myung Min
He is the 40 year old conductor who is a world renowned orchestra maestro who is a perfectionist in his work. He is not an easy person to work with and is feared by all his players. His demanding and harsh insults hurt so many of them and many either cry in tears or treat him with resentment. He never thinks that he is wrong and never cares for others.

He is notorious for his aggressiveness and sharp tongue. His nickname is 'orchestra killer'. The reason that he has spent most of his time overseas is because he had once refused to perform in front of a large audience, including the president as he considers the players as trash and not up to mark.

He insists that he must have the best as classical music is for the nobility . An orchestra is hard to form due to this. He never stays longer than 6 months in a place. Through Lu Mei and Jian Yu, he learns through his mistakes and learns that everyone needs a chance. His ties with the others turn better. They also learn how much they lack after seeing how professionals perform.

He will never say sorry but will hints in a roundabout manner that will make you laugh although he is very serious. It seems that he is condemning Junior in front of others but in reality, he is praising him. However, he still thinks that they are not good enough and prefers to pick the best to form City Hall Orchestra. The semi-professionals are indignant by this and form their own, getting Junior to lead them. They did not know that Senior helps them secretly on many occasions and prefers not to tell them. Junior prefers to find help by his own means and not to rely on him.

The whole team break out in cold sweat upon seeing Senior as one of the judges for them to qualify for a public performance. Although other judges like the new version that is composed by Lu Mei and Junior, Senior picks on them. However, they are still selected in the end.

He has said that the poor can never appreciate music. However, he doesn't hide his past of coming from a poor family. His mother is on the verge of death and his spirits are low as he stays in a container. One musical performance that he sneaks in to watch enchants him so he works hard to achieve to the status now.

Being a professional, he will never condone mistakes. He never expects others to prefer Junior to him in conducting. Being a fair person, he takes a back seat to witness their improvement by pretending to break his arm. Soon, he discovers that Junior is a talent but knowing that he will never proceed far under a stubborn him, he wants Ming Huan to guide him instead. Junior realises his intentions and rushes back from the airport to prefer to learn from him again.

Life is not smooth-sailing for Senior. He goes through a lot of hurdles. Even though Senior injures his arm, he will still make sure that a performance goes on without fail. After the performance, he gets so physically drained that he faints to wake up 2 days later with a broken arm. He only has a past relationship which fails and Thovan, his pet dog becomes his only soul mate by being with him till now.

He later discovers that some things are beyond his control. Even though he dislikes Mayor Cui, he has to perform at his 'coronation' ceremony. He discovers that he can't do well during the practice. He senses that liking Lu Mei has affected his performance so he steps on the flowers that he gives her. Lu Mei then promises not to cause him to waver and will not see him often.

Senior pretends to be harsh to Junior and Lu Mei to cut ties with them so that they will be free from trouble. He is over troubled on how Mayor Cui owes the orchestra members their salaries. This proves to give him too much pressure and he falls critically ill. When Senior is sick, Junior finds excuses not to return home. Unexpectedly, his players take turns to take care of him throughout the night - that includes the ones whom he has scolded harshly.

He starts to fall for Lu Mei but is conscious of what others will say about a teacher seizing his student's lover so he shoves her aside, reprimanding her for being loose. They only show concern to each other secretly. The city hall fires him but an international orchestra hires him. Before leaving Korea, he bids all his players goodbye by having a final performance with them. The performance includes players from City Hall and also the semi-professionals from Junior's team. Both sides respect what they have done for them.

Totally brilliant and flawless!!!I enjoyed all his wise dialogues and sarcasm. He sweeps me off my feet. I am sick of watching half-baked dramas for a long time. I am won over Jang Dong Gun, Kwon Sang Woo and Park Shin Yang so far. Kim Myung Min is the only new addition to my list whom I have seen to match their standard. All must not miss his extraordinary performance.

2. Du Lu Mei - Lee Ji Ah
She is 25 years old and plays the violin. Her dream is to hold a performance. However, she is cheated and the real members left. So she has to seek the help of semi-professionals. She looks demure but she isn't. She is very lively and Senior breaks into smiles unknowingly upon seeing the mistakes that she makes. There is nothing he can't do except one - he can't swim! When he dares her to jump into the pond, she obeys and he gets frantic. He ends up becoming her chauffeur to let her rest at home.

She is initially interested in Junior but later falls for Senior. She puts up with all his tantrums and suffers silently when she is going to go deaf. She has neglected it and there is no cure for this. Senior is anxious and gets his doctor friend to treat her. Junior can see that Lu Mei loves Senior deeply by leaving messages on his hand phone daily so he also urges Senior to accept her as he has gotten over it.

He tries hard not to show concern for her but can't conceal at times when he goes to visit her. Lu Mei goes to visit He Quan's baby daughter. She doesn't hear Senior calling her. He realises how serious her condition is and touches her shoulder from the back. It is only now that he can't hide his anxiety anymore.

She has to readjust her life by enrolling into the university again to start with song-writing. He gives her a ring - it has great significance to him as he buys it from Beethoven's hometown and has been wearing it on his little finger all along. She treasures it and wishes him all the best.

She is contented when it comes true. It is a pity that Ji Ah's acting career is put to a halt due to her ex-marriage. She is a natural actress and has done well in here.

3. Jiang Jian Yu (Junior) - Jang Geuk Suk
He is 25 years old and has the same name as Senior. He is a policeman and blows the trumpet. He hates Senior as he berates him when he is in high school and gets disillusioned in music. He is disgusted when Lu Mei gets him as the conductor. More so when he has to stay with Senior. He nearly falls out with her. Due to his love for music, he quits his job. He later loves Lu Mei and is disappointed when she loves Senior but still wishes them well.

Senior discovers that even without formal training, Junior is a music genius to remember whatever music he listens to one instance and makes his own music. He nearly tears his hair upon realizing how many years Junior has wasted.

Junior slowly discovers how Senior cares for him and regards him as his elder brother although he already has a biological elder brother. Senior isn't used to it at first as he only has an elder sister.

Senior takes charge of City Hall orchestra while Junior is in charge of the semi-professional orchestra. He is not authoritative but makes decisions firmly. He is also very tolerant and patient with all the members. Senior gives him his conductor baton that he has used when he first started conducting. It hurts Senior when Junior rejects it when he discovers how Senior has helped him all along.

Senior's concern for him becomes evident. One organization invites Junior's orchestra, thinking that Senior is in charge. They reject him and turn to invite Senior. Senior is enraged and demands a high fee. He slams down the phone - he will not take it up even though they pay him double. How dare they bully his only student? When Junior comes to him in tears, apologizing for failing him, he hugs him to offer him comfort. That is the real highlight of the drama.

Senior feels threatened when some judges find that Junior is going to surpass him. He begins to become harsher on himself. Senior fights chances for the semi-professional orchestra to get the chance to play their tape to the council. Both have plenty of conflicts when Junior decides not to follow Senior's methods in playing music. He has his own ideas and Senior is cross. Senior feels that classical music should not be changed but Junior argues that music is invented. Junior proves to be right and Senior lets him his freedom to pursue his own dreams.

Due to many difficulties, Junior decides to disband the orchestra but holds the final performance as a parting present. Senior knows how much all value this and agrees to help so all treasure this last moment. Unlike his recent dramas which made him look so girlish, Geuk Suk is at his best here. He looks manly with short crew hair cut.
Probably playing against Myung Min has induced him to place in all his potential.

4. Jin Jia Yong - Lee Soon Jae
He plays the Oboe and all regard him as their teacher. He stays alone, not wanting to implicate his son. He suffers from senile dementia and tries to hide the fact with Yi Dun's help. But this doesn't last long as he keeps losing his way and forgets who he is with. Junior and Lu Mei are horrified by the news.

Jia Yong encourages Senior to be true to his own feelings so he goes to look for Lu Mei to get her back to Seoul. Senior doesn't want him to ruin the team to ask him to leave. All are sad when he is forced to leave them when his condition worsens to stay with his family.

5. Xia Yi Dun - Hyun Jyu Ni
She is very young and plays the flute. She can't complete her university studies as her family is poor. Jia Yong thinks that she is joking when she tries to borrow money from him. Being stubborn, she leaves school. He is disturbed upon knowing the truth and helps her out. Yi Dun learns about Jia Yong's illness and treats him like her own grandfather to stay with him.

Jia Yong has mistaken her to be his late daughter to often call her name wrongly. Yi Dun bursts into tears when he can't remember her at times. She goes for an audition and becomes second place to win a scholarship. Right after this, she rushes to the bus station to bade him good bye in tears.

6. Zheng Xi Lian - Song Ok Sook
She plays the cello but has dropped it for a long time since her marriage. She wants to be respected as Ms Zheng but Senior will not give her any respect as he finds her skills rusty. He also calls her 'aunty'. He even refers her to dog shit and. Still, he gives her a chance to be the star performer of a piece during a performance. She has to adjust family life and music.

7. Pei Yong Ji - Park Chul Min
He blows the trumpet at a nightclub so Senior chides him for having no standard. He also gets dressing downs from Senior and Senior chides him for getting the orchestra to work at clubs to keep it going. To Senior, music can never by downgraded. He doesn't understand why they choose to reject his sponsorship.

Senior flares up when he comes to the restaurant with Lu Mei to have dinner together. Yong Ji sees nothing wrong as what can they do if they go hungry? They still need to earn a living and he can only find a farmyard for training. Still, all are grateful to him. It is through this matter that they realize that Lu Mei and Senior are dating and all begin to dislike her as they side for Junior.

8. Piao He Quan - Jung Suk Yong
He plays the double Bass and trains regularly. He is the only one who is spared from humiliation to be the only member to be in the City Hall orchestra after his other ex-members are eliminated. Still, Senior gives them a chance to be as reserves to sit in to learn from the real professionals.

Many understand his difficulty when he loses his job as his second daughter is about to born soon. Chun Bi has deliberately dismissed some members in order to force Senior to give in to him. Senior allows this to take place but not for long as he is going to settle the case with him.

All congratulate him for being a father the second time. Senior becomes the savior to send his wife to hospital when she comes to beg him to let He Quan return to City Hall orchestra. Senior breaks out in cold sweat when He Quan's daughter keeps crying non-stop.

He tries calling He Quan but he offs the phone after seeing Senior's name. His expression softens upon seeing how a new life is born.

9. Piao Jin Man - Lee Bong Gyu
He is Xi Lian's husband who disapproves of her playing music. He even stops her nearly at the middle of a performance. Feeling lonely when she keeps on rehearsing with the orchestra, he gets involved in an affair. He repents and supports her from then on.

10. Zhang Ming Huan - Kim Young Min
He is a talented conductor and also Senior's classmate. Senior has slightly long hair but his is disheveled and messy. Unlike Senior who has to work hard, his is like a breeze.
He takes things lightly at appearance but he actually looks into every detail. Thus, he is very popular and well-known.

Senior has been jealous of him all along and views him as his strong rival although Ming Huan has no intention to compete with him. Upon knowing that City Hall has intended to get Ming Huan to replace him, Senior changes his mind and decides to stay. Ming Huan has a good sense of humour and is delighted to have Junior as his additional student.

Senior disapproves him of accepting students easily but Ming Huan enjoys watching the young grow. He also observes Junior's talents and agrees to Senior's request to groom Junior. But being a fair person, he reveals to Junior how thoughtful Senior is for him. He is glad that Junior chooses to be with Senior - if not, he will wack him for being ungrateful.

11. Jin Zhu Yan - Jo Se Eun
She is a violinist and is very beautiful. Yong Ji has thought of wooing her or Zhu Xi but none of them are interested in him.

12. Jin Zhu Xi - Park Eun Joo
She is also a violinist and is the younger sister. She is as attractive as her sister and all also like her.

13. Jiang Chun Bi - Lee Han Wie
He is the mayor who hires Senior but is furious that he is such a hard nut to crack. He often wants to take matters into his own hands. He has threatened to disclose Lu Mei's case to the police but Senior gets hold of his records of embezzlement so he has to let her go.

Senior fears for Lu Mei and forces her to leave the orchestra. When Chun Bi loses in the election, the new Mayor Cui no longer supports music and gets another conductor to replace Senior. Mayor Cui is cunning - he gives Senior a new post as consultant so that he can't leave but he also has no power. Senior knows that he has no other choice but to resign.

The City Hall orchestra players have plenty of substance. They know that the new conductor has no good foundation and pick on him. Laugh when they inherit Senior's poisonous tongue to sneer at him. They insist on having Senior back. During their practices, they lock him out of the room and are oblivious to his banging and cursing of them not giving him respect. They protest when the new conductor sacks them to deploy new members.

They find Chun Bi a better person and requests him to find a spot for them to have a last performance at the park. Chun Bi accedes to their request and gets the chance for them so they are grateful to him.

14. Jin Kai Zhang - Park Kil Soo
He is Chun Bi's henchman who carries out orders for Chun Bi. He is often in a fix when Senior doesn't listen to him. He continues to work under the new mayor.

15. He Quan Zi - Hwang Young Hee
She is He Quan's wife who is very supportive of his interest. She is shocked to know that he resigns because his superior picks on him. Knowing that he still loves music although he works in her brother's flower orchard, she keeps his tuxedo and even redeems his double bass after he sells it.

16. Hong Jun Qi - Kim Ik
Thanks to him, Senior s dog is saved after swallowing Senior's sleeping pills accidentally. He is a vet but Senior doesn't give him any privilege to get into City Hall Orchestra. He gives all ex-members very low points - not even a pass. Yong Ji scores the lowest at 1.39 so he curses and swears at Senior.

Interesting facts

Ji Ah practiced many days on the violin for the first scene. Many were wowed by her performance in the scene that Lu Mei performs in the MTR. They clapped hard for her. Even though she promoted for other dramas, the violin hardly left her side. Even though her managing company thought that she was good enough, she noticed that she had many solo scenes and had to be ready at all times.

Lee Soon Jae had acted for 50 over years and this was his first time playing the Oboe. He also played the instrument daily on and off-set. This was also a hot promotion point as many were curious on how he would play the role.

The shooting scenes became hot tourist spots. Many felt that it was like a wonderland for the children as many artifacts were made of wood.

Below is the list of awards that this drama has won - impressive, isn't it?

2009 Seoul International Drama Awards: Best Picture - Mini Series Award
2009 36th Korean Broadcasting Association Awards: Best Actor Kim Myung Min
2008 21st Producers Awards of Korea: Best TV Drama
2008 The 45th Baeksang Arts Awards: Best TV Actor Kim Myung Min
2008 MBC Drama Awards: Grand Prize Kim Myung Min, Drama of the Year Award,Male Newcomer Award Jang Geun Suk, Special PD Award Lee Jae Kyu, Golden Acting Award - Supporting Actor Park Chul Min, Golden Acting Award - Mid-level Actor Song Ok Soo, Writer of the Year Award: Hong Jin Ah and Hong Ja Ram


  • 2008 The 2008 Grime Award: Special Award Song In-hyuk and Hong Sung-wook

  • 2008 The National Assembly Society of Popular Culture & Media Award: Most Popular Drama in 2008

  • 2008 The 9th Broadcaster Awards: Best Performance in Broadcasting Kim Myung Min

  • 2008 The 3rd Korea Drama Festival: Grand Prize Kim Myung Min

The ratings were disappointing - lowest at 11.5 and highest at 22%. Maybe many can't accept a serious drama. It is a pity that they have missed a wonderful drama.

Conclusion :
It is labeled as the Korean version of 'Nodame'. It is on classical music and it is obvious that the whole cast has done their homework. They look like real players and the scenes are realistic. It is unexpected that the semi-professionals and City Hall players can mingle so well. They have blend well due to love for music.

The star of the drama is still Myung Min. He practically steals the glamour from everyone once he is there. Senior is a complex character to handle but yet he is able to show us so many different faces of him at different stages. He may not be the usual prince charming as in other dramas but he lends a demanding presence that is definitely unforgettable.

I shall not elaborate too much on the drama as you need to watch to find out yourself. The Beethoven pieces are well played and those who love music will definitely like this drama. This is a must watch drama for all Korean drama fans.


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