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Topic Options
#445488 - 01/05/08 05:25 PM Famous performers with stage fright
Liscio Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 53
Do any of you know of any famous pianists/composers who suffered from performance anxiety? - (besides Horowitz)

Thanks ~

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#445489 - 01/05/08 05:34 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Backle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/25/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Florida, U.S.A.
According to Stephen Hough, Rachmaninoff was quite nervous when it came to performing.

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#445490 - 01/05/08 05:53 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21827
Loc: Oakland
Keith Jarrett's complaints about the piano are undoubted more to do with his stage fright than the piano. After all, who else cares that much. I suppose the same is true of Michaelangeli.

Henselt's stage fright was legendary.

A number of performers will take something before performing. I suspect that is why so many end up alcoholics or drug users. My favorite was Bobby Short, who stood at the stage doors, and announced "I think I need some more perfume!" and went back to his dressing room. He smelled very nice when he went out on the stage.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#445491 - 01/05/08 06:14 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
 Quote:
Originally posted by Backle:
According to Stephen Hough, Rachmaninoff was quite nervous when it came to performing. [/b]
Yep, he had to be pushed on stage at times.

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#445492 - 01/05/08 06:26 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
-Frycek Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 5921
Loc: SC Mountains
Chopin - he was notorious. He loved playing for small intimate groups where those who were really interested would draw near the piano and those who were not simply carried on - the family and social atmosphere in which he'd played from childhood, but get him in front of a paying audience and it was a totally different story. He felt suffocated by their eyes and their breath. He couldn't breathe. He agonized for weeks before a concert. After a public performance he was so emotionally and physically drained that he retreated for weeks afterwards. George Sand once said in exasperation that he'd only be happy playing in a totally dark hall on a totally muted piano.
_________________________
Slow down and do it right.

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#445493 - 01/05/08 06:50 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1711
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
Well, there's always Glenn Gould -- though one can argue whether it was stage fright or audience hate.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#445494 - 01/05/08 07:48 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
V. Horowitz often experienced exceedingly bad bouts of nerves before stepping out on the stage.

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#445495 - 01/05/08 09:31 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Backle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/25/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Florida, U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
Well, there's always Glenn Gould -- though one can argue whether it was stage fright or audience hate. [/b]
In a 1958 interview with Hugh Thomson, Glenn Gould himself said that he was fortunate that he did not succumb to nervous tensions.

Straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, that seems to imply quite strongly that it was indeed the latter.

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#445496 - 01/06/08 02:48 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
GlennGouldGirl Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 12
Loc: Granby,MA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
Well, there's always Glenn Gould -- though one can argue whether it was stage fright or audience hate. [/b]
No, Glenn was legimately anxious. He took medication for it. I experience the same shock when I get on stage. It is due to a solitary lifestyle, as was his.
_________________________
Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/republicangirl01

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#445497 - 01/06/08 02:55 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1711
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
 Quote:
Originally posted by GlennGouldGirl:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
Well, there's always Glenn Gould -- though one can argue whether it was stage fright or audience hate. [/b]
No, Glenn was legimately anxious. He took medication for it. I experience the same shock when I get on stage. It is due to a solitary lifestyle, as was his. [/b]
I'll defer to your judgment, since I am not a Gould scholar by any means. But I do want to say that that, in my book, the two reasons I gave are equally "legitimate," and may be even related in certain individuals (though I am not saying that Gould was one of these).
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#445498 - 01/06/08 03:21 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
yok Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/01
Posts: 464
Loc: New Zealand
 Quote:
Henselt's stage fright was legendary.
A possibly apocryphal story has it that Henselt, when playing concertos with a long orchestral introduction, would rush on stage just before the first piano entry, such was his discomfort on stage.

Among contemporary pianists, Stephen Kovacevich is well known as a nervous performer. I have only heard him in concert once, in the Beethoven C major concerto and he was certainly quite fidgety to begin with. He fiddled a lot with the cushion on top of his very low stool before finally removing it somewhere in the middle of the first movement. He really only seemed to get fully focused by the cadenza (he played the very weird Beethoven one.)

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#445499 - 01/06/08 03:39 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8927
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by yok:
A possibly apocryphal story has it that Henselt, when playing concertos with a long orchestral introduction, would rush on stage just before the first piano entry, such was his discomfort on stage.
And reportedly, he once forgot to remove his cigar before rushing out! (Isn't Schonberg's "The Great Pianists" a treasure trove of cool stuff?)
 Quote:
Among contemporary pianists, Stephen Kovacevich is well known as a nervous performer.
Martha Argerich, when turning pages for him in a chamber recital said: "I can hear the beatings of your heart!"
_________________________
Jason

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#445500 - 01/06/08 03:57 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Bassio Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/24/03
Posts: 2480
Loc: Alexandria, Egypt
 Quote:
Originally posted by Backle:
According to Stephen Hough, Rachmaninoff was quite nervous when it came to performing. [/b]
On the contrary Backle.

Although he had a rather introvert and shy personality, (from the anecdotes I read about him) he was very confident on stage.

Do you remember the anecdote when he played with Kreisler .. the "Where are we?" thing.

I also read of an anecdote in which he comforted a very nervous vocalist during a performance together.

But of course, nothing is guaranteed.
Anyone here saw Rachmaninoff in concert?

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#445501 - 01/06/08 05:05 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Backle Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/25/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Florida, U.S.A.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bassio:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Backle:
According to Stephen Hough, Rachmaninoff was quite nervous when it came to performing. [/b]
On the contrary Backle.

Although he had a rather introvert and shy personality, (from the anecdotes I read about him) he was very confident on stage.

Do you remember the anecdote when he played with Kreisler .. the "Where are we?" thing.

I also read of an anecdote in which he comforted a very nervous vocalist during a performance together.

But of course, nothing is guaranteed.
Anyone here saw Rachmaninoff in concert? [/b]
I do indeed understand the logic behind that and I don't even necessarily disagree. I'd imagine it would be incredibly difficult to disagree when I have no real sources to substantiate my argument, after all. Apparently Stephen Hough does, though. I would recommend you talk to him, rather than kill the poor messenger that brought the unfavorable news, so to speak. :p

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#445502 - 01/07/08 05:41 AM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Robert Kenessy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
Does Helene Grimaud[/b] have stage fright or is there another reason she canceled concerts so often (in the mid '90 at least), preferably at the last minute?
_________________________
Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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#445503 - 01/07/08 07:12 AM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
Argerich cancelled more concerts than she performed due to her health problems then. I have not heard anything regarding the nerve issue.

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#445504 - 01/07/08 01:33 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1711
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
 Quote:
Originally posted by argerichfan:
Martha Argerich, when turning pages for him [i.e. Kovacevich] in a chamber recital said: "I can hear the beatings of your heart!" [/b]
Given their history, isn't that just flirting? \:D
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#445505 - 01/07/08 02:12 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
epf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 658
Loc: Central Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bassio:
Anyone here saw Rachmaninoff in concert? [/b]
Although I never saw Rachmaninoff in concert, my father did and loved to tell two stories about it. First, he apparently strolled onto the stage, sat down and immediately started playing -- no pause, no setting up, he just played, and played, and played. At the end the people were applauding and calling for an encore. He finally agreed and played a piece that, by that time in his life, he hated: his own Prelude in C-sharp minor.

Ed
_________________________
"...a man ... should engage himself with the causes of the harmonious combination of sounds, and with the composition of music." Anatolius of Alexandria

YouTube Channel

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#445506 - 01/07/08 02:21 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
C H O P I N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 310
Loc: England
Just wondering, how can all of these pianists perform so well, if under such nervous conditions? - I know when i'm nervous, my hands tend to shake.... How do they manage the accuracy they still acheive?

C H O P I N
_________________________
"I Think Therefore I Am." - Rene Descartes

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#445507 - 01/07/08 06:41 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
Lento Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/07
Posts: 50
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by C H O P I N:
Just wondering, how can all of these pianists perform so well, if under such nervous conditions? - I know when i'm nervous, my hands tend to shake.... How do they manage the accuracy they still acheive?
[/b]
I'd say it's pretty subjective. Nervous for one person might mean their heart beating a little faster, and another might be trembling all over their body :p

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#445508 - 01/07/08 09:09 PM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7983
 Quote:
Originally posted by C H O P I N:
Just wondering, how can all of these pianists perform so well, if under such nervous conditions? - I know when i'm nervous, my hands tend to shake.... How do they manage the accuracy they still acheive?

C H O P I N [/b]
They know what they are playing so well and have it so totally in their muscle memory that they could (as I once heard Artur Pizarro put it) play the music while in a coma. I remember the first experience I had in which I was so nervous I was shaking; I really wasn't sure I could run that stupid black machine, but you know, it's surprising what you can do when you REALLY know the music. Oddly, the worst part of it wasn't my shaking hands, but that my knees went weak, which made pedalling sort of iffy. But, you just keep going, and it wears off. Then the next thing that happens is that you have to fight having your mind wander. Come to think of it, since it's such a horrifying and unpleasant experience, why anyone actually gets in front of an audience and plays is a mystery. :-)

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#445509 - 01/08/08 12:14 AM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
timbo77 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 268
Loc: Singapore
Rachmaninoff was often nervous before performance -- his cousin, Sofia Satina, confirmed this. Once he was on stage, that was another matter. Shura Cherkassky described his appearance on stage and performance as almost Mephistophelean, made all the more so by his imposing height and a slight limp.

(The oft-cited anecdote about Rachmaninoff and Kreisler on stage is fictitious: they never played together in public.)

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#445510 - 01/08/08 12:15 AM Re: Famous performers with stage fright
1RC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 502
Loc: Alberta
 Quote:
Originally posted by wr:
Come to think of it, since it's such a horrifying and unpleasant experience, why anyone actually gets in front of an audience and plays is a mystery. :-) [/b]
Somehow, I never feel so alive as when I feel like I'm going to die \:D I'll never forget that time I (stupidly) climbed a cliff without any kind of safety gear, it wouldn't have been too hard to fall to my death... What a rush!

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