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#2081779 - 05/13/13 09:24 AM Famous Memory Lapses
Roland_Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/12
Posts: 40
Loc: South Africa
Not sure if there was a thread like this before, but here goes. One of my piano professors told me of a huge memory lapse by Emile Giles, he was playing Schumann concerto, it was live on radio and somewhere during the third movement (what's up with this movement!!!) it sounds like a child banging on the piano, eventually he finds his way and it goes back to normal. He had memory lapse.

So yeah, any other famous memory lapses...
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#2081783 - 05/13/13 09:27 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19591
Loc: New York City
As a young teen playing Mozart's Fantasy in D minor I forgot much of the last page. Does that qualify?


Edited by pianoloverus (05/13/13 09:32 AM)

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#2081810 - 05/13/13 10:10 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19591
Loc: New York City
Can't remember the pianist, but he had to stop during a concerto performance. He approached the conductor and said "Where are we?" and the conductor said "Carnegie Hall".

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#2081817 - 05/13/13 10:20 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: pianoloverus]
DameMyra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1983
Loc: South Jersey
I have heard two professional pianists have memory slips, both in the third movement of . . . the Schumann Piano Concerto. Since both are still alive and concertizing I am not going to mention names. I also was at a concert where a very famous violinist completely blew an entrance during the last movement of the Korngold Violin Concerto. She came in early with a FF quadruple stop, immediately realized her mistake, smiled at the conductor, put her violin back down and waited for the correct entrance. BTW, she played absolutely beautifully.


Edited by DameMyra (05/13/13 10:21 AM)
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#2081831 - 05/13/13 10:50 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5325
Loc: McAllen, TX
Not to shamelessly self-promote, but pretty much everything here:

http://brendankinsella.com/httpdocs/hall_of_shame.html
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#2081835 - 05/13/13 10:56 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Brendan]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4892
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Brendan
Not to shamelessly self-promote, but pretty much everything here:

http://brendankinsella.com/httpdocs/hall_of_shame.html


That Chopin sonata 3 has got to be a joke. Not trying to offend, but those lapses were pure comedy. cry

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#2081859 - 05/13/13 11:46 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: pianoloverus]
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3916
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
As a young teen playing Mozart's Fantasy in D minor I forgot much of the last page. Does that qualify?


Totally predictable, as the last pages of this piece are lost, and NOBODY remembers them. wink
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#2081876 - 05/13/13 12:09 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
jdhampton924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1009
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
Several come to mind for me:

Norman Krieger played Beethoven's Emperor. He was using the score throughout(well had it up on the piano, didn't notice until he turned a page late in the 2nd movement and parts of the last). During the last movement, there was a part where his left hand dropped out entirely. The orchestra also didn't play much here. It was very noticeable.

Stephen Hough was premiering a new work for orchestra and choir in Indianapolis. For the second half of the program he played Mendelssohn's G minor piano concerto. The concerto was flawless, but he played an encore after, a small piece by Schumann, and there were some memory slips. Though I think that was more from being tired then memory.

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#2081883 - 05/13/13 12:27 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8926
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Didn't Schnabel have a notorious lapse in the Brahms Bb with Bruno Walter conducting?
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#2081917 - 05/13/13 01:34 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: JoelW]
cefinow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/10
Posts: 364
Loc: Western NC (US)
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Brendan
Not to shamelessly self-promote, but pretty much everything here:

http://brendankinsella.com/httpdocs/hall_of_shame.html


That Chopin sonata 3 has got to be a joke. Not trying to offend, but those lapses were pure comedy. cry


There was a certain awesomeness to it too, though, along the lines of Herbert Lom’s epic transformations in the Pink Panther movies… as rationality and order attempt to hold out, but eventually give way to the inexorable onset of madness and chaos… *ahem* I got a little teary eyed myself grin

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#2081978 - 05/13/13 03:56 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
Wow, I think I can do that too :p

What is happening there with Brahms? Does he just skip to the next session after two tries?
http://www.brendankinsella.com/Brahms1.mp3


Edited by wouter79 (05/13/13 03:56 PM)
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#2081997 - 05/13/13 04:42 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
Ralph Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1305
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
I think Richter's memory slip during a solo recital has to be among one of the most famous. He always used the score for every performance after that.
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#2082136 - 05/13/13 09:48 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
Piano Doug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/13
Posts: 187
Loc: New York City
I heard 3 recitals of the last 3 Beethoven sonatas in which each pianist had a memory slip in the fugue of Op. 110. Rudolph Serkin at Carnegie Hall, Claudio Arrau at the 97th St. Y, and another renowned pianist at the 97th St. Y, who is still alive and so I won't mention his name. All 3 recovered quickly, and each recital was absolutely memorable despite the slips.

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#2082165 - 05/13/13 10:45 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Piano Doug]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19845
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Piano Doug
97th St. Y

(memory lapse there) grin

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Didn't Schnabel have a notorious lapse in the Brahms Bb with Bruno Walter conducting?

Yeah -- I didn't know who the conductor was, but that must be it. As I read it, the music came to a stop, Schnabel and the conductor went and huddled together silently (or quietly), then Schnabel went back to the piano and they picked back up.

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Brendan
Not to shamelessly self-promote, but pretty much everything here:

http://brendankinsella.com/httpdocs/hall_of_shame.html

That Chopin sonata 3 has got to be a joke. Not trying to offend, but those lapses were pure comedy. cry

Thanks for highlighting that one. You made me have to go and check it out.

Brendan, I gotta tell you, that was brilliant. Even though I know the piece very well, I have to admit I wouldn't have been sure it was a lapse -- I would have wondered (a little) if maybe this was some alternate version you had found. At least on a single hearing, it WORKS. smile

I've only had one real memory lapse in performing, and it was on the slow movement of this sonata, in the passage before the final return of the main theme. After one of those little single-voice figures in the R.H., when I brought my hands back downward for the next chords, one hand or the other just landed in the wrong place and so the chord was mush, such mush that I was stunned out of consciousness about exactly what was supposed to be going on. I just 'kept playing,' not caring much except to stay in rhythm and to be playing stuff that was more-or-less from the movement, and knowing that I had to wind up on an F#-7th chord to lead into the last section. I decided I'd just try to keep it going until I saw a way to lead to a fermata on that chord and meanwhile to keep playing some semblance of a melody. Few people knew anything had been terribly amiss. A friend of mine knew and said "I didn't know Chopin wrote jazz." grin

BTW I found that development section in the 1st movement to be the hardest memory challenge of the sonata and gave it lots of attention. So, then it's the slow movement where I screw up.... ha

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#2082172 - 05/13/13 10:58 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7980
A few seasons back I was at a recital where the pianist went WAY off the rails a few measures into the coda of Chopin's 4th Ballade. He kept going, admirably making things up in a desperate stab at getting to the finish. He did finally regroup for the last 12-13 measures, but it was really scary for a while. I felt so bad for him... Being thirty-ish, he didn't even have the "I'm getting old" excuse.

But it is a funny thing about going off the rails - I've seen people get lost even with the score in front of them, so it seems that some aren't really about memory per se, but about some kind of other short-circuiting because of nerves.

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#2082174 - 05/13/13 11:04 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3832
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Here's a memory lapse story for you. It's not famous, but it happened to me yesterday.

I played the first movement of the Appassionata for my teacher's end-of-school-year studio class. No memory problems until I get to the Adagio in the coda, just before the big C7 -> F chords that launch the Piu Allegro section on the last page. I draw the adagio out as usual, pause before the chords... and I suddenly cannot remember what the right chord is. I know it's a C7, but I'm not sure which inversion in the RH. I sit there for what feels like 5 minutes (but was probably only 3 seconds) before beginning to feel that the drawn-out pause was getting worse than a wrong chord would be. So I just go for it... and thank god, my hands knew the right inversion.

Not only did no one know I had just had a moment of utter terror, but I think the extra pause actually worked. At any rate, I was able to take my frustration out on the Piu Allegro. smile

-J
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#2082176 - 05/13/13 11:11 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19845
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
....Not only did no one know I had just had a moment of utter terror, but I think the extra pause actually worked....

Must have sounded like 'rubato.' grin

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#2082178 - 05/13/13 11:16 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: pianoloverus]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Can't remember the pianist, but he had to stop during a concerto performance. He approached the conductor and said "Where are we?" and the conductor said "Carnegie Hall".


Supposedly that was Kreisler being accompanied by Rachmaninoff.
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#2082180 - 05/13/13 11:19 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Mark_C]
Piano Doug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/13
Posts: 187
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Piano Doug
97th St. Y

(memory lapse there) grin



LOL!! No wonder I couldn't find it the other day!

I blame it on the subject matter of this thread. . . blush

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#2082210 - 05/14/13 01:03 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Mark_C]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4892
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
"I didn't know Chopin wrote jazz." grin



Speaking of this, I really think that Chopin's chromaticism lead him to write the first hints of jazz. The little left-hand 'improvisations' in the 4th scherzo during the repeats are so jazzy.

Now, I know -- this is NOT jazz. But they're 'jazzy'. smile

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#2082278 - 05/14/13 05:32 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5425
I heard the great Maurizio Pollini have a memory lapse in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.1, with Claudio Abbado conducting the London Symphony Orchestra - about 20 years ago, on a live radio broadcast.

The orchestra finished its ritornello, after which the piano should have come in with a big sweeping arpeggio. Instead, there was a dead silence....only for half a second, then Pollini evidently woke up grin, and played his grand piano entry - somewhat rushed, as if making up for lost time.

Even the greatest can come unstuck.....
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#2082436 - 05/14/13 12:30 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: JoelW]
Verbum mirabilis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 208
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
"I didn't know Chopin wrote jazz." grin



Speaking of this, I really think that Chopin's chromaticism lead him to write the first hints of jazz. The little left-hand 'improvisations' in the 4th scherzo during the repeats are so jazzy.

Now, I know -- this is NOT jazz. But they're 'jazzy'. smile


The first hints of jazz were written by Bach wink
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#2082440 - 05/14/13 12:51 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21821
Loc: Oakland
I forgot what I was going to say!
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#2086781 - 05/22/13 12:37 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: wouter79]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
Originally Posted By: wouter79
What is happening there with Brahms? Does he just skip to the next session after two tries?
http://www.brendankinsella.com/Brahms1.mp3

That's indeed what happened, as you can hear. He got a bit further when the opening theme comes back, but...yeah, shortest Brahms ballade I've ever heard in concert - and I know that this pianist can really play that piece very well normally!

As for memory slips that shorten pieces considerably...you all remember how the 1st movement of the Grieg concerto begins and ends, right? With the very same Tonic-dominant chordal progression from the top of the keyboard, with slightly different rhythm. Well, a friend played it in a class lesson, the tremolo from the 2nd piano came and she came in and started playing the ending of the piece...heh.


I had a rather terrible memory slip in the 1st movement of Hammerklavier once - a seriest of fast modulations that come in different keys in the exposition and the recap, well...left hand was doing the recap version already in the exposition...start-stop...start-stop....once again, left hand in the wrong key....[censored]. start-stop...keep going with one hand until the other comes in right. Worked out in the end, but those were 20 scary seconds that felt like forever.

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#2086885 - 05/22/13 03:43 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10406
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Well, there is always this one from the Tchaikovsky competition a while back ...

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#2086910 - 05/22/13 04:11 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1801
Loc: Helsinki, Finland
That video shows more of a lapse because of nervousness than anything else. Given the amount of time one needs to spend on Chopin studies mastering difficulties, learning to play them by heart is not a problem. The poor guy must've worked on it for long - he was simply nervous.

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#2087255 - 05/23/13 09:46 AM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Brendan]
The Hound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/11
Posts: 124
I'm doing my Grade 8 Trinity Guildhall in July and have two of the pieces memorised. I can't see any reason to use the music for them (particularly for the Fig Leaf Rag, where it's more helpful to keep my eyes on my hands due to all the leaps), though according to my teacher it's extremely unusual for entrants to play without sheet music. The advantages of doing so are obvious, though I am worried I'll have a memory lapse due to the pressure of the situation, even though I play the pieces daily.

Originally Posted By: Brendan
Not to shamelessly self-promote, but pretty much everything here:

http://brendankinsella.com/httpdocs/hall_of_shame.html


These were very entertaining - thanks for posting. The orchestra ones are a bit incongruous though, as they seem to be fundamentally terrible (way-below-average school orchestras or something?), rather than decent musicians crashing and burning.

Very amusing though - especially the Strauss. grin


Edited by The Hound (05/23/13 09:47 AM)

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#2087411 - 05/23/13 01:11 PM Re: Famous Memory Lapses [Re: Roland_Guy]
poorly_tempered Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/02/13
Posts: 16
Loc: nova scotia
i can't recall when it was or where i saw it, and the performer's name has slipped my mind. i'm not 100% confident of the piece either, but i remember a really big memory lapse that occured. clear as day, like it was just yesterday...

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