Seymour Bernstein: I don’t know any artist who escaped stage fright

Seymour Bernstein: I don’t know any artist who escaped stage fright


norman lebrecht

February 24, 2018

The pianist, who retired at 50 with performance anxiety, says that even Vladimir Horowitz suffered from it.

The subject of a documentary by Ethan Hawke, Seymour –  now 90 – talks it out with Zsolt Bognar. ‘Usually, musicians are ashamed of it,’ he says.


  • José says:

    Hawke’s film about him (“Seymour: an introduction”) is amazing, by the way.

  • Ricardo says:

    Beautiful man.

  • esfir ross says:

    His book “Angels and Monsters” is delightful. Must read by any pianists. He was very nice and appreciative to me. I don’t have stage fright when use score at performance. Most came from fear of memory lost. Fill comfortable with the rest.

  • Lorna Salzman says:

    I am so thrilled to see Seymour alive and well with such a great musical legacy and history behind him. When I was about 15 I studied with him for about a year. Then he was drafted and turned me over to an older German woman who mildly frightened me but claimed that she was Liberace’s first teacher. Happy birthday Seymour! And many more…well, a handful or so anyway.

  • Melisande says:

    For those who want to see this remarkable documentary about Seymour Bernstein by Ethan Hawke (84 minutes): it has been released on DVD and Blue-ray in December 2015, two months after the cinema film.
    A man of wisdom and reflection.
    Many warm wishes for the years to come.

  • Rich Patina says:

    When I was young I suffered from intense stage fright. Fortunately, my teacher was able to cure me of this problem simply by telling me that the people in the audience were not there to listen for one’s mistakes or to criticize. Rather, they plunked down their money because they want to be entertained. So, said he, relax and give ’em a good show. Even if one does make an occasional mistake, 99%+ of the audience members are unlikely to notice. Never again have I been afraid to perform.

  • Michael says:

    I used to see Seymour all the time at 72nd Street Bagels on the Upper West Side before it closed. Wish I knew which bagel shop he goes to now!