Stage fright: classical music’s dark secret

stage fright

Ivan Hewitt writes: Stage fright is like madness; it comes without warning, out of a blue sky. That’s how it came to Scottish pianist Steven Osborne, one of the most intelligent and sensitive pianists around. About ten years ago, during a performance of Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto, he suddenly started worrying that he was about to forget the next note.

“The feeling got stronger and stronger,” he recalls now. “I didn’t actually forget anything but it felt like the water was rising and lapping just under my nose.” Osborne was so disturbed by this experience he sought help from a cognitive therapist. “I learned a few tricks, like imagining I was somewhere lovely and unthreatening before a performance, like a flowery meadow. It helped, but I never felt it was a long-term solution.”

Then, a few years later came the real bombshell, during a performance of Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto ............

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