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Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
#2447650 08/04/15 05:10 PM
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I'm reading a good bio of Dinu Lipatti who was apparently incredibly nervous before performing although once he started playing was totally relaxed. I think Horowitz in his later years was sometimes very nervous but I don't know about this when he was younger.

I'm sure there are many others that were very nervous. PLEASE keep your posts about pianists who are no longer living!

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447653 08/04/15 05:17 PM
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Godowsky, Horowitz (after developing IBS?), off the top of my head.

Everbody's "excited."


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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447654 08/04/15 05:21 PM
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I thought Godowsky was more like "inhibited" as opposed to nervous. I just read a bio of Godowsky and don't remember reading about nervousness but maybe my memory is not so good?

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447656 08/04/15 05:49 PM
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Sir Clifford Curzon was the most well-known British pianist notorious for his stage fright, which became worse as he got older (giving lie to the common assumption among some - especially those who've never suffered from it - that stage fright improves with each subsequent 'exposure', i.e. performance).

I heard a few of his later live performances, and they were often nervy affairs, even train-wrecks at times. The differences between his studio recordings and his live performances, especially in Schumann and Liszt, were quite marked, almost like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - the one superbly controlled and nuanced to the nth degree, the other a high-wire act with tension at breaking point, liable to snap at any time.


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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447689 08/04/15 07:51 PM
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Perhaps Oscar Levant? -- But not just for performance, full time.


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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447706 08/04/15 08:54 PM
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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447741 08/04/15 11:52 PM
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Henselt.


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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447744 08/05/15 12:10 AM
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Previous poster right about Horowitz. My teacher was a friend of his and can confirm the situation...if it makes you nervous maybe you should consider another line of business...

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447754 08/05/15 01:42 AM
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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447837 08/05/15 09:58 AM
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I heard that Sofronitsky would get so nervous before a performance someone had to physically push him onto the stage and then he wouldn't dare to turn around and leave the stage once he was on it laugh

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Evaldas #2447855 08/05/15 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Evaldas
I heard that Sofronitsky would get so nervous before a performance someone had to physically push him onto the stage and then he wouldn't dare to turn around and leave the stage once he was on it laugh


I thought the 'push out to the stage' story belongs to Horiwitz. Either more than one pianist has this happened or it is an urban legend.

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Carey #2447859 08/05/15 10:37 AM
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In the documentary 'Bloody Daughter' by Stephanie Argerich, there was a clip of Argerich before a solo recital in Japan. For some reason Martha was vety irritable backstage before the concert. She started admonishing the poor Japanese stage door lady.

She said, "I did not feel like doing this today. I did not want to play like this." But she went out anyway and played wonderfully.

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447907 08/05/15 12:54 PM
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Gilels apparently was incredibly nervous. I heard a story about him vomiting before performing, but I'm not sure how true that is.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2447942 08/05/15 02:17 PM
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My teacher used to refer performing in public as "battle conditions." A certain amount of nervousness can help one to attain maximum alertness, and can even help elevate a performance to a higher level. Listen to Rubinstein live compared to his studio recordings as an example. The negative side can be reflected in Kapell's comment about the first 10 minutes of each performance being riddled with nerve induced mistakes - along with getting used to the piano and the acoustic. Horowitz suffered from nerves to the extent that his hands can be seen shaking in some performances - usually near the beginning. Obviously if nervousness becomes debilitating it's not merely going to be reflected in the performance, but can actually lead to more serious issues. For those in the latter situation who've exhausted options, my advice is not to undertake a career that involves performance. There are plenty of ways to be involved with music without having to step on stage.


Hank Drake

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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Hank Drake #2447987 08/05/15 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Hank Drake
My teacher used to refer performing in public as "battle conditions." A certain amount of nervousness can help one to attain maximum alertness, and can even help elevate a performance to a higher level. Listen to Rubinstein live compared to his studio recordings as an example. The negative side can be reflected in Kapell's comment about the first 10 minutes of each performance being riddled with nerve induced mistakes - along with getting used to the piano and the acoustic. Horowitz suffered from nerves to the extent that his hands can be seen shaking in some performances - usually near the beginning. Obviously if nervousness becomes debilitating it's not merely going to be reflected in the performance, but can actually lead to more serious issues. For those in the latter situation who've exhausted options, my advice is not to undertake a career that involves performance. There are plenty of ways to be involved with music without having to step on stage.

I heard that Horowitz's programs sometimes accounted for his nerves. For example, when he took up playing the Liszt sonata again in the 1970s, he would always start off a recital with a shorter piece, then play the sonata after, for fear of missing that opening octave leap.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Kuanpiano #2448031 08/05/15 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
[]
I heard that Horowitz's programs sometimes accounted for his nerves. For example, when he took up playing the Liszt sonata again in the 1970s, he would always start off a recital with a shorter piece, then play the sonata after, for fear of missing that opening octave leap.


Well, isn't that just doing it the intelligent way? Get warmed up and let the audience settle in before the hard part?



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Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Kuanpiano #2448119 08/06/15 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Originally Posted by Hank Drake
My teacher used to refer performing in public as "battle conditions." A certain amount of nervousness can help one to attain maximum alertness, and can even help elevate a performance to a higher level. Listen to Rubinstein live compared to his studio recordings as an example. The negative side can be reflected in Kapell's comment about the first 10 minutes of each performance being riddled with nerve induced mistakes - along with getting used to the piano and the acoustic. Horowitz suffered from nerves to the extent that his hands can be seen shaking in some performances - usually near the beginning. Obviously if nervousness becomes debilitating it's not merely going to be reflected in the performance, but can actually lead to more serious issues. For those in the latter situation who've exhausted options, my advice is not to undertake a career that involves performance. There are plenty of ways to be involved with music without having to step on stage.

I heard that Horowitz's programs sometimes accounted for his nerves. For example, when he took up playing the Liszt sonata again in the 1970s, he would always start off a recital with a shorter piece, then play the sonata after, for fear of missing that opening octave leap.


Horowitz generally started his programs with more lyrical works, such as Scarlatti, Mozart, or Haydn Sonatas, and built to a climax before intermission. Then some lighter fare, followed by a barn-burner for the closing piece. The first encore would invariably be a lyrical work, such as Schumann's Traumerai or Debussy's Serenade to the Doll.

http://www.vladimirhorowitz.hostzi.com/1_4_Concertography.html

Last edited by Hank Drake; 08/06/15 07:07 AM.

Hank Drake

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The composers want performers be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute orders.
George Szell
Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Hank Drake #2448269 08/06/15 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Hank Drake
Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Originally Posted by Hank Drake
My teacher used to refer performing in public as "battle conditions." A certain amount of nervousness can help one to attain maximum alertness, and can even help elevate a performance to a higher level. Listen to Rubinstein live compared to his studio recordings as an example. The negative side can be reflected in Kapell's comment about the first 10 minutes of each performance being riddled with nerve induced mistakes - along with getting used to the piano and the acoustic. Horowitz suffered from nerves to the extent that his hands can be seen shaking in some performances - usually near the beginning. Obviously if nervousness becomes debilitating it's not merely going to be reflected in the performance, but can actually lead to more serious issues. For those in the latter situation who've exhausted options, my advice is not to undertake a career that involves performance. There are plenty of ways to be involved with music without having to step on stage.

I heard that Horowitz's programs sometimes accounted for his nerves. For example, when he took up playing the Liszt sonata again in the 1970s, he would always start off a recital with a shorter piece, then play the sonata after, for fear of missing that opening octave leap.


Horowitz generally started his programs with more lyrical works, such as Scarlatti, Mozart, or Haydn Sonatas, and built to a climax before intermission. Then some lighter fare, followed by a barn-burner for the closing piece. The first encore would invariably be a lyrical work, such as Schumann's Traumerai or Debussy's Serenade to the Doll.

http://www.vladimirhorowitz.hostzi.com/1_4_Concertography.html

Here's the quote that I remembered:

November 21, 1976: Powell Hall, St. Louis, Missouri


Clementi: Sonata Op.33, No.3
Chopin: Nocturne, Op.72, No.1
Chopin: Waltz, Op.34, No.2
Chopin: Introduction and Rondo, Op.16

Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Encores:
Schumann: Träumerei, Op.15 No.7
Moszkowski: Etincelles, Op.36 No.6

- This was the only time Horowitz structured a program that included the Liszt Sonata in such a fashion. The unedited recording likely explains what happened: Horowitz opens the Sonata with a plethora of wrong notes. Then, his playing improves. Perhaps Horowitz felt that in the case of the Liszt Sonata, he required a warm-up beforehand. From this point on, he always programmed another piece in front of it.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
pianoloverus #2448284 08/06/15 03:02 PM
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when will come the day when we can just sit at the piano, put on our VR gear, completely shut off the audience and play the piano on a relaxing beach with nothing but the wind and seagulls?


BTW, this is supposed to be funny:

[video:youtube]uYulF6Lhq2Q[/video]


unlocked by keys
wordless poetry sings free
- piano music -
Re: Which great pianists of the past were notoriously nervous?
Kuanpiano #2448297 08/06/15 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano

Here's the quote that I remembered:

November 21, 1976: Powell Hall, St. Louis, Missouri


Clementi: Sonata Op.33, No.3
Chopin: Nocturne, Op.72, No.1
Chopin: Waltz, Op.34, No.2
Chopin: Introduction and Rondo, Op.16

Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Encores:
Schumann: Träumerei, Op.15 No.7
Moszkowski: Etincelles, Op.36 No.6

- This was the only time Horowitz structured a program that included the Liszt Sonata in such a fashion. The unedited recording likely explains what happened: Horowitz opens the Sonata with a plethora of wrong notes. Then, his playing improves. Perhaps Horowitz felt that in the case of the Liszt Sonata, he required a warm-up beforehand. From this point on, he always programmed another piece in front of it.


I was there and he didn't look nervous. I do remember a lot of mistakes. At the time, I attributed it to the acoustics of Powell Hall. He was quoted in the local paper as saying they compared poorly to his bathroom.

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