Must watch: When a concert pianist finds her pedals don’t work

Must watch: When a concert pianist finds her pedals don’t work


norman lebrecht

December 29, 2016

Eliane Rodrigues came on stage in Rotterdam and opened her recital with Chopin, only to find that the pedals on her Steinway were dead.

No-one can play Chopin without sustained notes. Eliane called out for help – in Dutch.

Nobody backstage seemed to hear.

So she sat at the keyboard and started playing non-pedal pieces.

Eventually, stage crew came to take the piano away. Eliane carried on playing, even as it disappeared below stage. She was not giving up without a fight.

You have to see this performer.

UPDATE: The famous pianist who fixed his broken pedal


  • Scott Fields says:

    The problem is that the sustain pedal is stuck in the sustain position, not the other way around.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    What a trouper!

  • Brian says:

    I think I just fell in love — wonder if she’s single…

    • Brian says:

      What I mean there, of course, is that our true beauty shows best not when everything’s going smoothly but when there is reversal, adversity, obstruction in our way. The old Chinese oracle I Ching (or Yijing) discusses this principle in Hexagram 22, usually titled “Grace” in English. But that’s a discussion best had over a bottle or two of wine.

      • Charles J Gibson RPT says:

        Brian, I agree. Because of the grace and humor she showed, I fell in love with her, too.

      • Charles J Gibson RPT says:

        What a great sense of grace & humor! I have to wonder why the piano technician, who last tuned the piano, didn’t run all the pedaling and touch tests. If they had, the issue with the dampers and sustain pedal would have been discovered and, hopefully, taken care of…..assuming, of course, those issues were present when last tuned.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Remarkable performance.

    But maybe the cause was stage fright of the instrument on seeing her rather exotic dress.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    She did a courageous and musical feat of talent. It is terribly unnerving when such technical mishaps occur with the instrument. I imagine all pianists have stories to tell. I have three which stick out most and this topic certainly gives us opportunity to share our tales–
    1: at the University of Maryland 1985 competition, for the first beat of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in g minor WTC II, when I pressed the middle pedal to hold the bass “G”, it took the damper pedal with it. By the 3rd beat, the sound was so muddy and I couldn’t figure it out until I tried to use the damper pedal and noticed it was already down. Geez, first piece for a competition prepared for months and months, nerves et al. I had to continue playing and physically lift the damper pedal up with my right foot. By the third measure it was ok. 2: During a run-out performance of Brahms’s 2nd concerto, the middle E-flat ebony broke off the key during the second movement. You can imagine the rest.
    3: During a solo recital, the dampers were not going down. Fortunately, my buddy Andrew Gentile was present and stood in front of the piano pushing down the dampers as I was playing. My wife had to walk out because it was too hysterical to watch. (Remember the ‘Pez’ episode of Seinfeld during the piano recital? This was worse!) I only wish I had a video of that recital. Looked like someone playing ‘whack-a-mole’ inside the Steinway!

  • Mr Oakmountain says:

    What a beautiful sense of humour. Brilliant!!!

  • Sam Bork says:

    This separates the (wo)men from the boys!

  • NYMike says:


  • Dennis Dreith says:

    I think she should keep this in her act!

  • Sixtus says:

    At last, something to compete in entertainment value with Richter playing the Tchaikovsky concerto as rendered by Monty Python.

    • Sixtus says:

      She should repost the video on her YouTube channel where it is far more likely to go viral, or as viral as classical performances can get.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    Incredible. I was reminded of Imogene Coca…

  • Christopher CZAJA SAGER says:

    Amusing, your words, ” on her (?) Steinway were dead ”
    and amusing, too, ” in Dutch”
    Rotterdam i s in the NL…….nu? perhaps ER spoke Spanish?

    Once during an encore phase of a recital I played that in 2000 in Istanbul I had a quip when upon the same inquiring question,now for the third time asked by a stagehand in the wings “Finissshhh? “, I answered , ” no….Polish”.
    The pedals were alive and well-functioning!

  • Paul Davis says:

    Wonderful, she’s an enchanting presence. It was lucky she wasn’t due to play some concertoes…..

  • Scott P says:

    Bad idea moving a piano with the 85lbs lid up. If it falls on your hand, it can end your carreer. Broken hand happen this way.

  • LC says:

    This was entertaining, but I don’t know how they could have switched pianos with no break in her playing and in less time than it took to set up the poles and ropes and move her on and off the lift portion of the stage.