Maestro beats on with bleeding hand

A spectator reports from the Royal Festival Hall:

We were sitting in the side stalls of tonight’s Philharmonia concert at the Royal Festival Hall and it looked like Vladimir Ashkenazy gave himself a rather nasty paper cut (on the edge of the music stand?). It bled for most of the third movement of Lemminkainen. He appeared to never miss a beat as he retried a handkerchief from his pocket but had to suck his thumb / finger quite a bit or clench is fist until the bleeding stopped. It’s not often you see a conductor pointing with a fist!

ashkenazy conducts


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  • Ah self-inflicted wounds by conductors are always good entertainment!! Didn’t Solti once stab himself in the head with his baton while conducting Figaro??!!

  • Maestro Ashkenazy had another accident like this about 10 years ago. On 23.Oct. 2004, he conducted NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. During Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 3, Maestro Ashkenazy stab the baton in his left hand. He completed first half of the concert, but he was taken to the hospital during intermission. The orchestra played second half of the program, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, without conductor.

  • One time during a passionate section of the Mahler 6th with the LA Philharmonic, I saw Michael Tilson Thomas accidentally fling his baton across the orchestra. Nobody was injured, but I think one of the musicians may have ducked. And recently, Nézet-Séguin flailed so wildly in front of the Rotterdam Philharmonic (during a Tchaikovsky 5th in Northridge, CA), he knocked the music off his concertmaster’s stand. He looked a bit mortified.

    • Ormandy lost a baton during a performance of the Bruckner 9th with the Philadelphia Orchestra c. 1974. I didn’t see it go flying but noticed that at some point during the scherzo he was conducting sans baton. There was a lengthy break before beginning the Adagio, during which the migratory baton was passed from somewhere near the percussion. from one musician to the next, and back to the podium.

  • I wear my 25th anniversary ring on the 4th finger of my right hand. During a particularly hot performance of Sibelius 2 I gave a forceful, open-handed gesture to the woodwinds (I don’t use a baton) and the ring flew off at high speed, over the heads of the violas and 2nd violins and landed in the lap of the 1st flute, a very attractive young lady. No injuries, but questions were asked…

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