Is this the first classical selfie?

Is this the first classical selfie?


norman lebrecht

December 08, 2013

 denis nesterov

This is Rachmaninov’s D-minor piano concerto as seen from the trombonist’s perspective. The trombonist in question is Denis Nesterov of the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. We think he may qualify as the inventor of the classical video selfie.


  • Peter says:

    It’s a trombone. Easily confused.

  • richardcarlisle says:

    Not for my ears … radical change of mode might better be a harmonica?

  • Andrew Condon says:

    At least he has a few more notes than the total of 14 that are required from the tuba in Dvorak’s New World Symphony

  • robcat2075 says:

    I kept waiting for some misdirected office-gopher to come through those elevator doors in the background.

  • John says:

    I totally appreciated this! I think the point is in how little some instruments have to do in some big pieces. For numerous players, a lot of waiting is involved.

    • Vivian says:

      Don’t forget the triangle solo in the overture to “Die Meistersinger.” When he was a young student, Sir Donald Tovey was asked to play the famous note in a school performance of the overture, when the percussionist fell ill. As he (age 17) knew the score cold, no problem was anticipated. But when the moment arrived, there was only silence. Turns out that no-one had shown him how to hold the triangle, so it was muted in his grasp.

  • Orin O'Brien says:

    This is a secret and (to me) charming and humorous look at the way most orchestral players look at their important (yet unsung and unnoticed by most of the audience) contributions to a performance. We applaud a soloist of course, but we also often applaud the player who sits next to us or in front of us who played a beautiful clean rhythm or a secondary melody or an important harmony…these small but crucial pieces of the mosaic of a symphony orchestra are part of the sharing of a life in chamber music/orchestral playing: I loved watching the pleased smile on the face of this trombonist who knew that he had played the characteristic rhythms of the ending of the Rachmaninoff concerto perfectly in synch with his colleagues. This glimpse into our world should be cherished: it is only a small part of the incredible concentration and artistry that each member of an orchestra gives to create the entire experience of a performance. Whoever made this video…thank you!

  • Martin says:

    A video just in my current mood. I started to look at musicians in the orchestras while they are not playing, rather than the conducor or the current “sound makers”. It’s fascinating to observe how focused some musicians seem to be despite they sometimes don’t play for several minutes.

  • Prewartreasure. says:

    Is this the world’s first MOVING selfie? (This’ll be lost on some, I know)

  • william1951 says:

    For comparison, see this amusing video of David Finlayson, 2nd trb of the Ny Phil:

  • robcat2075 says:

    Question for the experts… is the “Rachmaninoff” rhythm at the end of his compositions the authentic Russian way to say that name? It’s not the rhythm we typically use when saying it in the US.

  • Pete says:

    And posters to this list wonder why the average person out there thinks that orchestral players (esp. in certain American orchestras) are over paid.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      That’s because the average person out there has no idea what it takes to become an orchestral musician on that level.

      Besides, the fact that in this particular piece, he doesn’t have that much to play doesn’t mean that in most pieces, most musicians sit around and wait for their entries most of the time. Compare that to the workload of the same musician, e.g. in a Bruckner or Mahler symphony.

      Besides 2, could the average person out there walk in and play the 2nd trombone part in Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto in the St.Petersburg Philharmonic, even if it is just a few entries.

      • M.A. Steinberger says:

        The average person doesn’t realize that when you’re not playing you must still know exactly what is happening at all times. You don’t just get to sleep until it’s your turn! (Examples: cellos in the Nutcracker overture, trumpets in Messiah.) It actually requires more concentration than playing. How brass players do it cold like this is amazing to me. Hard enough for us strings.

    • robcat2075 says:

      If this ever comes up in conversation it might be useful to cite that a bench-warmer in the National Football League (US) gets a minimum of $405,000 per year no matter how little he plays.

  • As an amateur vocalist and former player of piano and clarinet, I have known these kind of performance waiting ordeals. The expressions on his face are certainly worth the long playless time, and the look of self-satisfaction at the end: priceless! Thanks, Sis, for thinking to post it.

    Now, I know I’m getting out of touch when I have to implore someone out there to explain “selfie”, but could someone please explain the term to me?


  • Prewartreasure. says:

    As you were – sorry – here’s the correct link: