Emergencies for pianists : orchestra : piano concerto

Many minor upsets in the way of small emergencies may occur at any time during a concert which also the artist must not allow to put him out. For instance, he may have a difficult or unsympathetic conductor, if it is an orchestral concert, or the orchestra may be poor and unreliable, and come in at the wrong places. It once happened to me that the wrong parts had been brought for the orchestra, and when I came in to play and sat down, prepared with the E Flat Concerto of Liszt, to my horror they gaily started the opening bars of the Saint-Saens’ Concerto in C minor! There was no time to protest, the audience was sitting expectant. Luckily I knew the other concerto and so followed bravely on with it, but I was certainly not prepared to play it at a moment’s notice in public, without looking through it first !

Orchestra | pianist | piano concertos : tips

That contretemps arose from having no time to rehearse, and I earnestly counsel all young pianists to insist upon a rehearsal when playing with the orchestra wherever possible, no matter how much extra traveling or fatigue it may cause them. For it is almost out of the question to obtain a really satisfactory performance of a work from anyone’s standpoint by just scrambling through it, in terror all the time lest the orchestra should not follow you, as happens when concertos are played in public without rehearsal. Of course if the artist has done the same concerto many times with the same conductor and orchestra, and they well know the rendering he gives of the work, the case is rather different. Under such conditions the pianist would be justified, if there was any difficulty about a rehearsal, in doing without one, but even then it is far better for the young artist to make a point of it.

Pianist’s education : piano concerto : other subjects

There are two other things I would like to speak about before closing this chapter, which are in close connection with the pianist’s outlook upon life. The first is, that I do recommend him most sincerely not to neglect his general education and risk becoming what used to be called “music simple !” Music is such an absorbing study, and taken professionally it uses up so much energy and mind power, that it is difficult I know sometimes to keep up interest in many other subjects at the same time, especially during student years. But I am certain that it is an inestimable advantage to the virtuoso to have his brain alive to every branch of intellectual endeavor. For the broader and more enlightened his vision of life, so much the finer and profounder his own art will become.