Maestro beats on with bleeding hand

Maestro beats on with bleeding hand


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2015

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



  • John says:

    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??!!

    • Mattheos says:

      Sloppy technique, that is.

    • Stephen says:

      That is true – luckily it happened during a recitative so he had time to run of stage and staunch the flow. He did the same again while recording “Parsifal”. Nothing to do with sloppy technique.

  • Simon S. says:

    Ouch! Paper cuts are really nasty!

  • Hank Drake says:

    Carried on like a real trouper, Ashkenazy is one of the least diva-esque musicians I’ve ever encountered.

  • saoshima says:

    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.

  • Papageno says:

    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.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Compare this with Richard Strauss, who beat time with his baton and did the rest by using his eyes….

    • Tom Varley says:

      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.

  • Andrew Shulman says:

    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…

  • Marcelo Mendes says:

    Nobody mentioned Lully, who struck his own foot with a conducting staff and died later of gangrene.