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Top Ten Classical Music Mishaps

A page-turn gone wrong
A page-turn gone wrong

Performing on stage is not for the faint of heart. There are the hours of practice and the agony of performance nerves. When things go well, of course, it is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating activities. When things go wrong, however, they can go very wrong indeed. And there are plenty of people to witness your discomfort!

Here is our collection of some of the most notorious classical music mishaps. Though they are funny, spare a thought for the musicians involved who, more often than not, handle them with professionalism and a wry smile.


1. The Bow Snap


One of the most recent mishaps was in Stefan Jackieís performance of Reinhold Gliereís Concerto for Violin. Two thirds through the concerto his $30,000 bow snapped in two. Watch the video to see how he managed to continue:


2. The String Snap


Bow snapping is relatively rare. String snaps are much more common. Listen out for the characteristic Ďpoppingí sound in Ray Chenís performance of Tchaikovskyís Violin Concerto:


3. The Page Turn


Page turns can be a nightmare. Itís important not to be too enthusiastic about them!


4. The Show Must Go On


But this timpanist certainly shows how, sheet music or no sheet music, the show must go on:



5. The Grimace


When conducting, the important thing to remember is that, when a mistake happens, donít let it show on your face. Karl BŲhmís reaction to a horn entry in Beethovenís Symphony No.7 is not exactly a masterclass:


6. The Bad Entry


Still, conductors donít always get it right either. Beethoven Symphony No.5 is notoriously difficult to get going. This conductor gives the signal and, for a heart-stopping moment, nothing happensÖ


7. The Wrong Piece


Imagine siting down to play a concerto but the orchestra starts playing an entirely different piece to what you were expecting. This is exactly what happened to pianist Maria Joao Pires, who hadnít expected to play Mozartís Piano Concerto No.20. Conductor Riccardo Chailly tells this incredible story, the resolution of which illustrates the immense talent of Joao Pires.


8. The Squeak


Musical instruments can be pretty unreliable at times. Listen out for the dreadful clarinet squeak at the end of this orchestral performance:


9. The Badly Time Sneeze


And itís definitely best not to sneeze into a trombone, especially in the middle of something this lyrical:


10. The Mobile Phone


Mobile phones have become a blight in concerts in recent years. Violist LukŠö Kmiť deals with the distraction in style, the sound of that famous Nokia ringtone leading to some genius improvisingÖ








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