Man collapses in Yuja’s marathon

Man collapses in Yuja’s marathon


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2023

Slippedisc readers at Carnegie Hall last night report a medical emergency not far into the opening concerto in her Rachmaninov marathon.

At the first intermission of the Yuja Rachmaninov gala-the second concerto which was performed first was interrupted by a scary medical emergency aright in front of me-Apparently an older man fell unconscious-his wife began to call for help-a physical therapist, then a doctor got his heart started-eventually he was brought into the hallway the door was closed after 20 minutes or so-Yannick came out and said ‘music is life-but life is more important than music and the stricken party was alive.’

Later, Yannick informed the audience that the man was out off surgery and doing well.

Here’s video from the end of the show.

Yuja performed the four Rachmaninov piano concertos plus the Paganini Rhapsody.

UPDATE: I would add that after Yannick and Yuja went offstage, she came back out and watched for some time until someone apparently asked her off stage-I thought it showed her concern.

UPDATE2: What, nothing in the NY Times? Zachary Woolf wrote a fine review but he failed to mention that a man almost died and there was a lenthy hiatus.
UPDATE2: After several hours the Times updatedt its report.


  • Carl says:

    Remarkable amount of information from the stage. Did Yannick had a direct line to the surgeon’s operating theater?

    Another reason to question the sense of having concerts that last this long.

    • Zweito says:

      Wang’s teacher, Gary Graffman, 95, sitting through the almost 5 hours concert, plus encore, showing his love and endorsement

    • Stephen says:

      Not many concerts last this long, the audience chooses whether to attend such concerts and, it was noted,the incident was only 20 minutes into the programme.
      What next? Prevent performances of Wagner operas?

    • Robert Holmén says:

      Heart failures aren’t caused by one thing in one evening. They are caused by a long accumulation of things over years.

      I would bet that that guy wasn’t feeling well even as he sat down for the concert.

      I wish him a full recovery.

    • patron says:

      It was 20 minutes into the concert. Your comment would have more weight if it was 3 hours in.

    • Daniel says:

      Your comment makes no sense. I was at the concert and the incident occurred during the first piece less than 30 minutes into the program. I was enthralled throughout and length was not an issue.

    • JGaresche says:

      The incident had nothing to do with the length of the concert – as it occurred only 30 min in.

      Calling it a Marathon was quite accurate though – all four concertos and the Paganini variations was a serious workout. There cannot be more people who could have accomplished that than could be counted on one hand.

  • Potter Herald says:

    Remind me of a few gigs Matsuev did a decade ago with the same programme, I guess once with Slatkin and then with Gergiev. He was not tired at all and no one kneeled before him. Albeit we are not talking about the quality of his or her performance

    • Rach Fan says:

      Matsuev performed Rach 2 & 3 with Slatkin about 10 years ago. I’m not aware of him ever playing all 5 Rachmaninoff pieces in one concert.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    Yuja Wang is performing the kind of concerts that we here about with Lizst, Litolf, Thalberg and Anton Rubinstein. The Third concerto is a monster all by itself, the Second has been heard so often that it must be played brilliantly to have a strong effect and the Rhapsody needs abandon. Wish I had been there.

    • Zweito says:

      Rhapsody was before final assaults of No.3, so everyone in the music hall could take a breath. She also did an encore after the kneeling-down, see for yourself on youtube

  • anmarie says:

    Not hard to “see” why the poor man was stricken.
    Glad he’s okay!

    • Helena says:

      Sharp, Anmarie

      • anmarie says:

        I’m genuinely curious: Would you wear that costume if you were to perform in public? Would you want a daughter to wear it? If so, why?

        • JGaresche says:

          Her costumes – which she changed for each piece was a reflection of her vivacious attitude and amazing presence while delivering with ease the most challenging set of piano solos with flair and character. It was a riveting performance of which the energy it created is something I will never forget.

  • Mark Miller says:

    Quite the scary moment. She recovered superbly from the uncertainty of the moment. Great energy in the hall. The Philadelphians were incredible and she was phenomenal.

  • E Rand says:

    From Ormandy and Rubinstein to the clown and stripper in just a few short decades. The decline continues apace…

    • Mick the Knife says:

      Ah, yes. The good ole daze.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Those folks in the front row could almost have seen what Yuja had for breakfast. What class she has!!

    • trumpetherald says:

      The lament of the goners….

    • Nina says:

      E Rand, totally agreed. Shame to people who support such weird artists. It’s not a pop and she isn’t Lady Gaga. (Even Gaga knows what to wear at the Oscars. )
      Shame to people who kill classical music.

      • JGaresche says:

        Kill classical? She is keeping Rachmaninov alive in ways that people such as yourself are working hard to bury it.

        • Nina says:

          JGaresche, how old are you? They make money and hype on the culture they officially “canceled” because of 2022’s political situation. This time they are doing “show” on bones of Rachmaninov, next time – what? Anyway, you will adore everything they do, except to think properly about what is really going on. And keep your weird thoughts about my own personality aside of public spaces like this amazing web portal. You don’t know who I am and what I am doing. So, think more, talk less.

    • Piano fan says:

      Ironic, considering Moritz Rosenthal referred to Rubinstein as a clown.

    • Frederick P. Walter says:

      Au contraire, Rubinstein was notorious for his own heroic feats–playing 17 different concertos in a couple weeks, 10 different recital programs in two months, not to mention the many occasions when he played 3 Beethoven concertos on the same evening. Like Yuja, he expanded the listener base for classical music.

  • PH Concert Goer says:

    Thank you Mark Miller. I agree with you on all counts. Yuja Wang is astonishing, and it was a privilege to be in Carnegie Hall last night. I’m sorry that music lovers everywhere weren’t able to participate.

  • Mock Mahler says:

    I was in Philadelphia for the two-night version–surely the better way to do it. It was interesting to hear the Paganini Variations on both nights, with her performance noticeably developing. The third was stupendous.

    Believe it or not, there was an encore.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I attended the Thursday performance (only, boo hoo) and loved it. Two questions about last Friday:

      – Can you elaborate on how the Paganini developed on Friday?
      – Did the orchetra fine tune its dynamics? On Thursday at time the brass overpowered the strings, and the entire orchestra overpowered Yuja at some climaxes. (I sat at Tier 3).

      • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

        One of Yannick’s weaknesses is balance between soloist and orchestra. A couple of years ago he let Grimaud overwhelm the winds in the Bartok 3rd, wrecking one of my favorite moments in music.

      • Mock Mahler says:

        Yes, I think the dynamics had much to do with it: you could hear her more clearly and she seemed to be responding quite precisely to the orchestra. So likely it was less a matter of her interpretation developing than of the total performance jelling in that magical way that happens from time to time.

        (PS: I think many performers would be somewhat unnerved by the way Yannick turned around on his high podium and loomed over her in solo passages–but evidently this was energizing.)

  • Monty Earleman says:

    I’m surprised it wasn’t you, Norman- you seem to get palpitations every time you mention her!

  • John Kelly says:

    An extraordinary evening. A concert to tell your grandchildren about. All round magnificent playing. Gent who had heart attack had it in a place where there was no shortage of doctors etc. He was 8 rows in front of me. Hope he recovers OK. EMS were there in 10 minutes but audience members did.cpr. Very disturbing to everyone especially the artists. Even a percussionist ran down to help. Didn’t spoil the event however. Yannick bowed down to her after the last concerto. She didn’t break a sweat and this was playing of the highest order.

  • microview says:

    Perhaps he was straining to get a view under the piano. Glad he’s survived tho’.

  • Diana Lee says:

    Yuja Wang is a national treasure. I can’t imagine this kind of an undertaking. And to come back out onstage to show her concern speaks volumes about her.

    • Nina says:

      I’m not Chinese, but I think your national treasure is a traditional Chinese culture including music what I like a lot.

  • Joel A Stein says:

    I sent Norman the original comments-I was 2 rows directly behind the man who was taken ill. Directly behind him was a woman who immediately provided CPR and restarted his heart. She is a physical therapist.

  • Julia Ash says:

    Wang is a disgrace. She is an embarrassment. Her outfits are more appropriate for brothels than concert halls. As a woman I am appalled by her “nakedness “ on stage of Carnegie Hall. It’s her cheap attempt to make a statement that classical music is fun and not boring. To me, her music is super boring as it has no depth.

    • Carl says:

      Have you ever been a pop or R&B concert? Wang’s outfits look like a nun’s garb in comparison.

      No matter the genre, musicians are artists but also entertainers. The outfit is part of the show.

    • PG Vienna says:

      Who cares what you think ” as a woman” your statement about Rachmaninoff being ” super boring” shows your incompetence.

    • Morgan says:

      . . . or perhaps you no ear.

  • mark desiderio says:

    One Rachmaninov concerto is too many.

  • Nina says:

    Rachmaninov would be ashamed of this show. Bare legs is not what he meant. Lord have mercy and forgive them…

  • Ise me says:

    She is a Queen…she plays like a goddess and looks amazing. That’s real self confidence from inside.

    Rachmaninov would have adored her

  • Benjamin Steinhardt says:

    A similar medical emergency happened at a Pollini recital I attended 10-15 years ago in the same area of the orchestra.

    This seemed somehow more dramatic, as the 4 1/2 hour marathon was just beginning. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on, as there were suddenly people running in and out of the side doors.

    It was only when I heard a woman’s cry that I realized someone was having a health crisis. Carnegie Hall was exemplary in their handling of the incident.

  • Unvaccinated says:

    He probably won’t be the only one collapsing.

  • Rachmaninov says nope says:

    Eh, this fits with what kind of pianist she is. A marathon runner than a painter, sculptor or a poet. It always seems like this is a sport and show for her not an art. I could not imagine my headache after 5 hours of banging. i wish the guy a rapid recovery. I am sure there will be another opportunity for him. No way Miss Wang ends this here.

    • Michael Levine says:

      Listen, “Rach”,
      Your snarky-ass comment says a WHOLE lot more about you than it does about Yuja!
      Unlike you, I’ll use my real name, and proudly defend the super-virtuoso genius that is Yuja. The fact that she’s a beautiful young Asian-Canadian woman clearly bugs racist misogynists like you, and let me assure you, WE SEE YOU for what you are!

      • Rachmaninov says nope says:

        Dear Mr. Levine,
        I don’t think my comment says anything more than what it is which is my personal opinion about Miss. Wang’s “playing” style and it is not my favorite. All you have about her playing is that she is a famous virtuoso that I would agree. You are welcome to show in where I say anything about her appearance or her identity. It is you that bring all these other things, not me. And this kind of proves my point. Good luck with your fanboying and hopefully you get a signed copy from her as a prize of your efforts. Cheers!

        Ps: Is she Canadian now? Sorry, I am not as hardcore fan as you to follow that closely.

      • Nina says:

        Mike, you’re the first person who mentioned this horrible word in the comments. Are you talking about yourself? Then it’s ok. Don’t talk about others. I’m a jury member at many competitions and I see a lot of little Asian rising stars who send videos to evaluate. None wears beach suits. And a lot of them play much better then this weird “artist”. Keep thinking and stop talking.

      • Christian Kliber Alsing says:

        I suggest you stop making a fool out of yourself with such aggressive comments.

        Or: feel welcome to write more, even more aggressively, “write your heart out” as we say….free entertainment for the rest of us.

        Yes, Yuja sparks public debate and division – it’s just a fact – and it’s part of her brand, her style, her career.

        Some people might find inspiration (pleasure?) in her 21st Century mixing of traditional feminine/masculine elements. “The attention seeker” VS “the attention demander”.

        Look at me – don’t look at me.

        Do I find her fascinating? Yes.
        She’s a strong and sexy piano virtuoso.
        Man and woman in one – jokingly 🙂

        Do I listen a lot to her audio recordings? No.
        I don’t feel the need or deep-hearted inspiration to do that anymore. And here is where I maybe start to sympathise a little bit with the “haters”, the conservatives, the traditionalists.

  • Ilio says:

    Audience medical emergencies happen more often than expected at concerts. There was a medical emergency at a Saturday Matinee at the MET some years ago at the beginning of Act II of Tristan & Isolde. Oddly enough there was a medical emergency during Act II of Tristan at performance at Royal Festival Hall back in the 90s.

  • Mystic Chord says:

    Yuja’s concerts and recordings will stand the test of time.

    Some of the rank comments here from the repressed, jealous or simply unhinged, should only be repeated to your therapists. Good luck with that.

  • Eric says:

    It’s embarrassingly obvious that the sniffy sanctimonious folks complaining about Yuja’s attire have nothing to say about the excellence or excitement of her performance. Imagine being so miserable in your own life that an artist having a blast in her own life by freely expressing herself sends you into conniptions. Poor dears.

  • HerrForkenspoon says:

    I wonder if those who complain about Ms. Wang’s attire, ever close their eyes and listen to her play. After all, it’s the music that matters, is it not?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Zachary Wolf’s excellent review was published in a timely fashion, and mentioned the medical incident. The New York Times delivered. I am happy to subscribe to this great newspaper. (When there is a will to bash it, there is a way.)

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Not in the early edition. They revised the article some hours later.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Fair enough.
        Does anyone know whether the printed edition included the revision? Just curious.
        I wonder how many people rely on the printed edition anymore. My morning ritual of reading the printed NYT is now fond, distant memory.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Mr. Lebrecht, you have a point, but why not revise your update accordingly?