Whatever happened to ‘indisposed’?

Whatever happened to ‘indisposed’?


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2017

That used to be the catch-all excuse for all musical cancellations from major surgery to an illicit tryst in Hawaii.

I think we finally drove the term out of business.

Now they’re falling back on ‘personal reasons’ – which is even crappier.

What, exactly, is a personal reason?

Leaky bladder? A director with wandering hands? Cat has to be taken to the vet? Pasta’s not up to mamma’s standards? New boyfriend doesn’t like Verdi?

Any more suggestions?


  • Alexander says:

    “the rest of the cast doesn’t fit my taste ” also can be a reason 😉 …. sometimes it really goes too bad among colleagues , in other words sh*t happens ( score sheet, of course)

  • Anon says:

    I would suppose it all has to do with the small print in today’s contracts, which the agents push trough for their clients, with clauses referring to ‘personal reasons’ for a no-show, since being ‘indisposed’ could be evaluated by a doctor’s attest, but personal reasons options can be pulled at free will.

  • Nik says:

    It’s the equivalent of a rail company telling you that your train is cancelled for operational reasons.

  • MWnyc says:

    What “personal reasons” means is that it’s (probably) some reason other than health, and it’s not other people’s god-given right to know any more than that so butt out.

  • AMetFan says:

    Today’s work ethic is different. After 35 years “in the business” I’ve seen it erode. You would think that in a time of diminishing opportunities in music it would be much different, but it merely mirrors the larger society.

    • Bruce says:

      I don’t think the work ethic has changed. There have always been people who cancel a lot, and people who never do. (Remember “Messrs Horowitz and Levant would like to announce that they still have a few cancellations available for next season”? And of course it’s one of the things Argerich has always been famous for: as with Horowitz, part of the excitement was waiting to see who would actually show up 🙂

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    “Family emergency”, has also been used for two concerts with different soloists in the last year. Yet they were available a few days later. Grrrrr.

    • Alex Davies says:

      Surely that is often that nature of an emergency: something that requires immediate attention but which will have been resolved within a few days.

      • Elizabeth Owen says:

        Nah, they were small unimportant out of London venues that the “stars” couldn’t be bothered to turn up for.Learned the hard way. They don’t take in to consideration that some if not many in the audience may have travelled a long way on a train and paid for a hotel only to be confronted with AN Other who actually on both occasions was just as good.

  • Halldor says:

    It’s certainly far more concise than “18 months ago when my agent filled up my diary I agreed to do far too much just so I wouldn’t have an empty patch; but now it’s actually upon me I could actually quite do with a few days off. So I’m dropping whichever gig is lowest-paying / least prestigious / requires most preparation / will have fewest knock-on effects on the rest of my career.”

  • SDG says:

    Neville Cardus in 1967:

    “On Tuesday, in the Royal Festival Hall, the large audience was privileged to share the best joke of the concert season….. The New Philharmonia Orchestra was conducted by Klemperer, in the enforced absence of Paul Kletzki, who is indisposed, or, in better English, not well.”

    Cardus went on to observe that: – …”this same Klemperer, an octogenarian, laid low time and again by violent assaults on his physical constitution, assaults which would have been fatal aimed at most of us, being as, we are, mortal.”

    I could go on with Cardus’ commentary on Klemperer, but for the moment note not only his contempt for the term currently in dispute, but also his exquisite use of the comma.

    The programme was:

    Haydn Clock Symphony; Mahler Knaben Wunderhorn ( w I Seefried and T Hemsley); Stravinsky Petrushka (which apparently he had just been recording, though not released in his lifetime).

  • HH says:

    Some time ago Steven Isserliss cancelled Warsaw but we got a wonderful performance by Alban Gebhard instead who also sat at the second cello row for Tchaikovsky symphony. Don’t panic. Cancellations may be good.

  • Bruce says:

    By the way, the photo reminded me of a recipe for “Linguini Pavarotti” that I came across years ago:


    It looks really good 🙂