Cleveland Orchestra cellist: We all play with pain

Cleveland Orchestra cellist: We all play with pain


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2018

Brian Thornton has been a member of the Cleveland Orchestra since 1994.

A Dallas student of concentration-camp survivor Lev Aaronson, Brian is sensitised to the physical and emotional wellbeing of musicians. ‘He lost everything: belief in God, belief in people, all that was left to him was music.’

Brian says: ‘So many of us musicians play with pain– even if it’s the pain of not being able to express ourselves… Te majorit of cellists in my orchestra have had some kind of surgery associated with the cello.’

He talks to Zsolt Bognar in the latest edition of Living the Classical Life.

You see it here first.


  • Sue says:

    “So many of us musicians play with pain– even if it’s the pain of not being able to express ourselves.”

    Last night I watched an old film, “To Hell and Back” – the real life story of decorated WW2 hero Audie Murphy. It was about horrific war experiences, life, death, losing beloved friends and courage and risk-taking of an unbelievable kind. I turned to my husband and said, “I’m so sick and tired of the snowflakes today complaining about absolutely nothing; they don’t know anything at all about real suffering and privation.”

    That’s my response to this article and many others like it. Toughen up, snowflakes. Big time.

    • barry guerrero says:

      . . . which is why we (U.S.) spend vastly more on military than the N.E.A.

      Who wants a soft snowflake!

    • Andrew says:

      If you don’t care about what a cellist from the Cleveland Orchestra has to say about real life experiences with occupational pain maybe you shouldn’t be here watching a video on that topic? Your judgmental post just reveals your own lack of compassion for someone with a different situation than yourself. Brian Thornton specifically mentions that most of his colleagues have needed surgery as part of their treatment for playing-induced injuries. We’re not talking about facelifts or Botox here. We’re talking about back, neck, and shoulder operations. People that play instruments for a living don’t just get surgery because they are over-sensitive “snowflakes.” They have surgery because they are in debilitating pain and are in danger of losing a career they have worked immensely hard for.

    • Bucko says:

      And by watching a movie now you know everything about “real suffering”?

    • Robert Holmén says:

      I’m tired of people complaining about “snowflakes”.

      The idea that the current set of complainers is any more complainy than previous ones is just a lazy pundit invention.

      Right-wing pundits who needed to assert their manliness creds by accusing these mythical creatures (presumed to be in the Obama-supporting demographic) of being somehow too soft.

  • Sharon says:

    I am a psychiatric nurse. Frequently “snowflakes” who are sensitive to their own “small” pain are more sensitive to the pain of others as well.

    Furthermore, although I do not know the story of Audie Murphy a lot of people who have had a lot of trauma have post traumatic stress disorders, psychiatric problems related to previous trauma that may not show up until 15 or 20 years later. Prior to they were psychologically in denial.

    One sees this in stories about war refugees as well

  • Sharon says:

    It is far more important to be compassionate than to be disciplined or tough. Kids that are “spoiled” and may appear to weak or self centered as kids turn out to be compassionate and charitable as adults. We learn what we live.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Is that a Hans Wegner 3-legged chair?

  • Scotty says:

    You’re being too hard on Sue. Once she had to fly economy. The horror. The horror.

  • Susan Halderman says:

    Very good video/article. Not exactly all about his own physical pain as the title makes it sound, although he hit on that lightly. Seriously, watch and listen. He talks about others…teachers, etc., and the horror that some of them went through in life, not just hurting playing cello…Seriously…Thanks!