It seems the Concertgebouw can’t raise a piano

After an introductory meditation by Messiaen, yesterday afternoon’s audience at the Concertgebouw were awaiting a concerto by Wolfgang Rihm when the piano mysteriously failed to materialise on stage.

A manager came out to announce that the hydraulic machinery had failed and it had been decided to play the symphony – Bruckner’s seventh – relegating the concerto until after the interval.

The audience bore this development with typical Dutch phlegm.

However, it then became clear that the percussionist was not yet in the house.

So the interval was called.

Afterwards, Christoph Eschenbach conducted the radio philharmonic orchestra in the Bruckner.

Nicely done. Afterwards, still no piano.

The Concertgebouw, apparently, just couldn’t get it up.

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  • The piano seems to have had a musical opinion of its own, with the prospect of its rising.

    • Apparently Beecham once remarked to a stage hand, when asked if he should remove the piano after a fraught concerto rehearsal, “don’t worry, it will slink off on its own!” In this case, it may have decided to avoid the problem altogether!

  • This once happened to Peter Donohoe at Proms when we had to wait ages to hear his Bartok 2 because there were problems lifting the piano

  • Does anyone know if the hydraulic lift is original to the Concertgebouw?

    Was there previously some other scheme in the 1880s?

  • Regular visitors to the Concertgebouw will know that the raising of the piano is always fraught with tension. A Dutch composer, Mayke Nas, had the brilliant idea to compose a short piece called ‘No Reason to Panic’ to be played by the members of the orchestra (mainly winds) who remain on stage during the frantic platform manoeuvres. It was first performed in October 2006 conducted, if memory serves, by Vladimir Jurowski. I heard a reworked version of the piece, although this time piano-free, around a month ago.

  • Does a composer still get his royalty, if a piece is scheduled, but not performed, due to force majeur like this?

  • The Percussionist… In Bruckner 7… hahahaha
    One triangle/cymbals stroke at letter W 2nd mov

    One stroke each! For the whole symphony.

    You couldn’t find a smaller wheel to stop a huge machinery.

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