I have several conflicting thoughts on this issue. I certainly do not have this ‘gift’ of playing well in public. Although I badly wish I did. Every single time I have played in public, I have not been happy with my performance. I have the piece down all right, but because of nerves it never goes well. When I sit down to play in a room full of people, I want so much for them to hear how wonderful the music is. But I make slips, or have memory gaps and the piece isn’t as good as it should have been. Very maddening. Then also is that I want the people to think that I am a good pianist, but of course that can’t be when I do these shoddy performances.
I know all this very well, Monica. I have played very often in public in my life and this summer I´ll have little recital again. I´ll play the Scherzo no.3 and several Nocturnes, prelude by Chopin and I think, some Songs without Words by Mendelssohn.
I think, our main-problem is our ego with all its excitement and stage-fright. I very often have made the experience, if I try to forget myself and to concentrate on music itself, it becomes much better and the music begins to flow through me somehow. If I get this
feeling, I´m totally happy and satisfied. The only problem is, that I´m not always in the right mood, if I do play in public and I´m not able to forget myself always, when I do play in public. So, it´s a new game every time I do it, sometimes it´s more or less successfull, sometimes not.
But…people in the audience are not like us – most of them, anyway. They are not as critical and discerning as we are. After my performances, I hear from people things like, ‘that was wonderful’, or ‘what great music’, or ‘you played perfectly’. In my mind I’m thinking, ‘are you nuts? That was a horrible performance.” But they don’t see it that way. So all of that makes me glad that I do have a chance to play for people sometimes.
O.k., you are right and I know this too well, too, but this never makes me truely happy, if I´m honest. I have to be satisfied with my playing myself and not with the praise of people, who don´t know anything about music or are probably only too polite to say honestly what they think about my bad performance.
But…also…since I am never happy with my performances because I feel I do not convey the music properly to an audience, then I think I am more like Gould and our character, Thad, in that I am better off playing only for myself. That’s when my music is the best. But then again…isn’t life better when you can share your joys with others?
I have a clear opinion concerning this issue recording against live-performance: live-performances in public have the very higher value for me, because they are more lively, spontaneous and demanding than to make a recording! They demand, what music is originally made for: that the heart is edified by the music and for this the player has to breath totally the mind of the music itself, which he is performing. To "breath the mind of the music" means to lose oneself in this higher spirit for the moment of this live-performance. That´s indeed the gift a true musician should have. And I have to admit, that I also have to fight with it. But I´ll try it again and again and I never will give it up, because it´s the celestialest one can experience on earth, I think.
Oh, Andreas – I’m getting very mixed up right now, probably because I do have to perform in a recital in three weeks. Only one piece, thank goodness, but I haven’t even chosen which piece I will play yet. It’s a choice between a Granados Spanish Dance, or a Mompou Cancion & Danza. I’m working up both of them this week, but it’s not going well and now I’m getting upset. Sorry for all of this – I just had to let out some of my own anxieties.
This is very understandable for me. I know these feelings too well. You are a real good pianist IMO and you´ll have success! Try to concentrate on music itself like I have described above. It´s the only medicine against the stage-fright. You have played so much pieces for PS, so that you´ll be successful with to play just one piece in public!
I'll get on with the next chapter later today. And don't feel like you need to hurry and read. We have all the time in the world.
Yes, you are right. But I like this book and I´d like to use my Easter-vacations for myself to read as much as possible of it. So, I´ll read chapter 7, too, this evening.