Welcome to Violinist.com! Log in, or join the community!
Violinist.com
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email Newsletter

Crying

Performing: crying while playing...

From Chris Meyer
Posted August 14, 2007 at 11:39 PM

How often do you see people and yourself cry on stage? (crying when you are actually playing, not when you are listening to a record). The only violinist I've ever seen cry onstage was Christian Ferras at the end of the this video

From Ronald Mutchnik
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 02:44 AM
I think this is a very interesting question and one I've never heard anyone pose. I've never seen a professional violinist cry on stage in a performance but I have seen many genuinely moved by the sadness of the music. It has usually manifested itself most obviously in the face with a look of deep sorrow - one can tell the performer is wrapped up in the mood of the music (witness Jacqueline DuPre's countenance in the video of her playing near the end of the Elgar Cello Concerto) and the conveying of the emotions or moods but never to the point of actually crying. I cannot be certain this is how other performers lost in the power of the music are feeling at the moment, but for me that experience is tempered by the need to "hold it together" and not fall apart emotionally. One may feel one is crying on the inside but the need to have control over the expression of the music and the technical control to convey that expression overrides the actual overt display of that emotion. The intensity of the emotion is there yet it does not show in an obvious way.
It is also possible that some performers consider such overt displays to be inappropriate because they might call attention to themselves rather than keep the listener's focus on what the listener is feeling. On the other hand, listeners may want to feel the same thing the performer is feeling and be caught up in the depth and sincerity of such an emotional display. From my experience as a performer and an audience member, it seems it is less common, except on the saddest of occasions, to see a significant percentage of the audience weep after hearing a sad piece of music to the extent they jump to their feet enthusiastically following a piece opposite in nature. I guess it is easier to feel happy and show that in obvious ways than to be vulnerable and let sadness show in public. Perhaps it is social/cultural conditioning.
A subtle but nonetheless powerful example comes to mind with Jascha Heifetz. There is a moment in his playing of the Bach Chaconne on video that his eyebrow is raised as the profound emotion of the harmony Bach has written has just hit him with a feeling he cannot ignore. In some ways, this is more powerful than the shedding of a tear because the sound expressing the emotion is there in his playing and yet he sacrifices his need to cry for the sake of letting the beauty and profundity of the music transcend the emotions he is feeling.
From Marty Dalton
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:55 AM
Christian Ferras suffered from severe depression (he took his own life in 1982). I think that folks who live with this disease have a hyper-sensitivity to many of their emotions (not just sadness). Saying that, I have not seen any other music cry on stage.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 05:02 AM
Very interesting.
From Megan Chapelas
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 09:09 AM
I once worked with a conductor who did everything he could to work himself up emotionally during the performances, and then tilited his head artfully towards the audience so they could see the tears. I have never seen anything so self-gratifying! Helmuth Rilling said something to us once during a festival when we were in the middle of some great emotional work (it may have been Verdi Requiem): (paraphrased, unfortunately) 'now, this may be wonderful music, but that doesn't mean you spent these 10 measures wallowing in what wonderful music it is. That's for the audience. You feel this wonderful music, yes, but your job is to pass it on. You play, you sing with my beat.'

I don't want to sound trite or unromantic here, but performance is seldom about you. The times I've been close to tears while playing have always been because I've been influenced or distracted by something else, and it's hindered my playing rather than enhanced it. Being inside the music means channeling those emotions until you've finished - and that comes across as power to me.

From Sarah Vandemoortele
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 10:14 AM
To be honest, it's one of the most natural performances I've heard (and seen) of this movement. Natural, as supposed to artificial.
I've nothing against this type of involvement, it's a proove of freedom and whenever feeling are free, they will reach the audience. It just affected his last two notes though, a bit cramped.
From Megan Chapelas
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 10:52 AM
Sarah, thanks for pointing out how my comment can be misunderstood. I wasn't referring to the performance in question at all - simply to my own experiences.

EDIT: Having watched the clip, I'd be interested to know how the performance went on. I agree, this doesn't come across as artificial, or perhaps a better word for what I mean would be distracted.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 10:46 AM
I have cried on stage while singing (with a choir, fortunately). I felt pretty uncomfortable about it. On violin, I may have cried a few times, but I think it was more related to nerves and a sense of being really wound up and the music just pushing me over the edge. It's hard to remember . . .I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and cry easily in all aspects of life, and when I was growing up it met with a lot of disapproval from teachers and family and kind of made me feel like a freak.

For myself, I tend to agree with Megan, it hasn't helped my performance to be that overcome by emotion during the performance--especially while singing.

But on the other hand, I like the honesty in this particular performance here. I think it would have helped me as a student to know that even professionals can have strong feelings like that.

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 12:19 PM
I've experienced this more than once in practicing such things as the Bach Chaconne, the slow mvt. from his 2nd concerto (- another choice maybe for my 'final' thread?) and the Chausson Poeme. etc. I've bordered on it in performance, but I really feel that it's out of place for the performer. It's fine if we make the audience cry, but I think we should carry forth the emotion w.o. letting it completely get to or stop with us in performance. Let the music, itself, cry - or laugh or speak.
From Jose Martinez-Canas
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 02:27 PM
This happened many years ago at the Casals Festival (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Isaac Stern was going to play Bruch #1 but war started in the Middle East and Israel was involved. Mr. Casals announced that Mr. Stern rather play that night something less festive. He choosed Bach Chaconne. While playing the Chaconne tears runned down his cheeks. When Mr. Stern finished playing there was no applause as he had requested. I will not deny I also cried as I think many in the audience did too.
From Jay Azneer
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 12:42 PM
As a singer I have experienced crying immediately after singing an aria which I realized I had absolutely done at the level of my dreams, but that was always in the practice room, never in performance. My conducting teacher always said that my job was to make the audience cry and if I was the one crying then I might not have communicated what I felt far enough outside of myself for the audience to feel it. I know that performance can be terribly precise in its impact, ie the people in the first three rows might be devastated but everyone from the fourth row back may have gotten absolutely NOTHING.
From Sander Marcus
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 01:41 PM
I've cried sometimes at the way I played, but not for the same reasons being discussed here.

However, it seems to me that crying is rather rare among violinists because (at least in part) the physical neuromuscular movements involved would rob you of a focus on what you are doing, and would also interfere with the actual playing of the instrument. I think, for the most part, violinists overcome with emotion express it in ways other than crying.

From Chris Meyer
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 01:48 PM
I forgot to add, in a recent DVD interview with Ida Haendal, she said that she has never played the Bach Chaccone without tears flowing from her eyes... I'm not sure if she does in that dvd performance though
From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 02:12 PM
I once saw a conductor tear up during the Funeral March of "Eroica". His friend had died recently.

Also, I played Verdi's "Requiem" right after I found out a school chum had passed from cancer. That was really hard.

But specific associations aside, I will cop to getting misty in the pit, usually due to Puccini.

From Sarah Vandemoortele
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 02:50 PM
I know people who can get so involved in the music they don't really use their ears anymore, so they've been taught to restrain their emotions to be better able to check their actual sound. However, I'm thinking, for practice this is good, for a performance you might be allowed to let the emotions come out freely. If the practicing was thorough enough so that you know exactly how to sound, all extra emotional input will not destroy the auditory and will be an extra spell on top of everything.
Any comments? Actually I'm experimenting a lot with my state of involvement nowadays. Which type unifies technique and musical meaning the best, which type is the most communicative...
From Michael Avagliano
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 03:25 PM
Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems like the majority of the people in this thread are advising against tears in performance, i.e. don't do it if you can possibly help it. I've always found that if the performance is reaching the audience on that emotional level we want it to, that it hits me before it hits them. To be honest, over the last 20 years, I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've gotten tears in my eyes during a performance, in all sorts of settings -- orchestral, chamber, recital, what have you. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive, or not trying to contain it, but it happens pretty often.

On another note, near the beginning of "Tocar y Luchar", the documentary about the Venezuelan youth orchestra movement, there's an extremely affecting shot of Placido Domingo crying as he's listening to the orchestra and choir perform. Although he's watching and not actually singing, it's an amazing moment.

From Mara Gerety
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 03:38 PM
I got pretty misty onstage once towards the end of the first mvt of Shostakovich Symphony #13 ("Babi Yar")--the bass singer had an absolutely gorgeous voice, the words he was singing were tremendously powerful on their own and Shostakovich had set them absolutely *perfectly*, and on top of all that, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the poet who wrote "Babi Yar" in the first place, was standing in the wings watching the concert from just backstage. Pretty impressive stuff.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:07 PM
The capacity and courage to live with a developed emotional freedom to experience the moment is not something to be taken lightly in today's crazy world. Read Leo Buscaglia's "Love".

It also came to mind that Dr. Robert Schuller's, "Tough Minded Faith for Tender Hearted People" seems pertinent.

From Mara Gerety
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:04 PM
Heightened emotional sensitivity: great for an artist, lousy for getting through everyday life.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:15 PM
Mara I agree. Walk softly and carry a big stick. -or- pearls are valuable, don't giv'm away irresponsibly.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:25 PM
I've wondered if being exposed too much to the performances or compositions of people with severe mental problems is a healthy thing. Like hanging out with them might not be. I wonder what Sander would think.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:28 PM
Severe mental problems and emotional richness on top of a healthy emotional quotient are very different things. Are we talking about emotional richness or insanity.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:39 PM
I agree with that probably. Ferras killed himself though, which is the thing that reminded me of the question.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 04:57 PM
Nonetheless.
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 05:12 PM
Finally got to see the clip... Very beautiful.

I am honored to know that when Hilary Hahn played unaccompanied Bach Sonata in Am, I wasn't the only one running for cover when she finished. God forbid she'd cried too. I may have never recovered.

From Jay Azneer
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 05:40 PM
Maura--
I have to second your comment about heightened sensitivity--it's essential for the performing artist but it's hell for daily living--especially as a physician dealing with life and death issues. Since I've stopped performing life is a bit less stress-filled--less like an open wound.
From Chris Meyer
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 06:44 PM
I don't see why it's bad to restrain from crying onstage... I'd rather see someone get worked up emotionally than to see someone play as if it were a midi file...
From Megan Chapelas
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 07:34 PM
I don't think we're debating whether having the emotions is a good or bad thing, but rather how they manifest. Music is as much an outlet for emotions as it is an inspiration for them, and the point of performance is to harness and channel these emotions through sound. For me, crying is uncontrolled and connected with a lot of unmanageable tension (breathing in particular). It inhibits my ability to project. That rush of emotion is genuine, and wonderful, but only if I can channel it into what I'm playing.

One of the most emotional performances I've seen was a memorial concert for Rostislav Dubinsky, played by a quartet who'd worked very closely with him. They fought to keep the concert (and their emotions) under control, and that charged the atmosphere like nothing else I'd experienced. Afterwards, it all came out - but during the concert, it went into the music.

BTW, I'd love to hear Buri weigh in on this one and AT.

From Ronald Mutchnik
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 07:56 PM
Dear Megan,
I agree totally with what you said about crying and having the emotions channeled into what one is playing. This is exactly how I experience it-I think it is possible to feel the music fully inside and know how to direct that feeling in the sound because music is really about what one hears-what sound comes out. If the audience is moved to cry that is ok but the performer I think is almost always at their best when they themselves don't end up crying or losing physical control of their emotions. It can seriously effect the quality of the performance.
Anyway, I'm glad for what you said and the way you said it.
From Joe Fischer
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 08:32 PM
Christian Ferras was a brilliant,master musician who--obviously--had no problem "channeling" his complete involvement in his performances to his loving public.
He bared his soul.He gave us all of himself in all he played;for the gifts he has given us,he must be revered forever as a master.
A few tears are an enhancement to this sublimely beautiful piece !!!
From Albert Justice
Posted on August 15, 2007 at 10:26 PM
Interestingly and somewhat related, now that I'm starting to croon a little, I'm having a hard time standing still. There's a lot of wisdom in this channeling logic.


Conversely, if one achieves a level where the music isn't effected, other things may apply--like crying.

When I start getting into the music--well, I resist as long as I can, I'm sometimes overwhelmed. This has happened throughout my violin experience beginning with Ave's a long time ago, and now even more so now that I'm progressing. Who put a martini in that bow! It actually feels something like that I think.

From Bobby Ni
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 01:40 AM
Ferras was an extremely depressed man...
From Gene Wie
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 01:45 AM
Don't we give up being able to feel all that emotion so that we can communicate it through the sounds that we make?

It would seem to me, the sacrifice we make as artists is to allow other people to *feel* those emotions, while we merely serve as a vehicle to communicate them.

From Chris Dolan
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 02:40 AM
Ronald, I recall the very moment you speak of when referencing the video of Jascha Heifetz playing Bach's Chaconne, and his expression at the close is telling as well.

Marty, when I was a senior in high school I suffered a very severe depression and missed the better part of my senior year because of it. It is a miracle I even graduated. I am not exactly sure what precipitated the event, except that I met my wife then and fell deeply in love for the first time in my life. I had fallen for other women before, but only in a childish way. Even then the emotions were almost more than I could handle, but falling for the woman who would one day become my wife was perhaps too much. Why do I mention this? The reason I mention this is that you are right in that those who are prone to depression, and of course those caught in the throes of a deep depression, experience emotions at times too great to bear. The feelings can be very, very intense. At the same time, one can at times feel nothing at all. It is a strange paradox. I remember what it was like 20-some years ago, to be caught in the midst of a severe depression. The feeling is indescribable.

I have always been one of a highly sensitive nature and when I played the classical guitar I would now and then find it very hard to hold my composure, but I always did. I suppose it is a cultural thing, the perception of a professional as being one who maintains a level of separation, who does not allow themselves to be so affected. And, of course, there is the technical side of a performance to consider. However, in my opinion some showing of emotion is in no way inappropriate.

Christian Ferras truly was a brilliant and passionate violinist, and his loss tragic. I would love to have met the man. I feel as though he is one with whom I would have been able to relate on a very deep level, and I have not met many who fall under this category, that is for sure.

Ronald, thank you for taking the time to submit this very interesting and seldom-discussed topic.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 03:01 AM
I have only cried once on-stage, and that was at my granfather's funeral 2 weeks ago. He had requested for me to play my viola (he actually requested "Rocky Top" as a first choice and anything else for a second, family decided on a different piece instead). I played Elegie by Vieutemps with piano accompianment. The pianist and I had 30 minutes to practice before the memorial service and all went well during the practice session.

I went into a private room to re-tune, then joined the rest of my family in the hall. We followed my grandfather's casket into the chapel. I was first up, rather than give a speach like the rest of my family, I played with all my heart and cried like I never did before. My grandfather was a singer, was in the choir in the Marine Core, and loved music. Crying did not help with my technical ability AT ALL, I started to shake from all the emotions, but was able to complete the piece without falling apart completely.

After the end of the piece I finally looked up from my sheet music and saw that everyone else was crying with emotion as well. This was a performance that was not for those listening but as an expression of what he loved and what I loved about him, a final gift to honor his life. I have one last surviving grandparent who wants me to play at his funeral as well (Irish Washer Woman). I will play again despite the tears.

From Joe Fischer
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 04:41 AM
Kudos to you Mendy !!!
To cry while playing the violin IS APPROPRIATE !!!! Especially, at the time you described.
There is NOTHING WRONG with shedding a few tears while performing !!!!!!
We are human beings--after all__and it is soo natural for humans to cry--crying is a part [a BIG part] of being human..
How many times have each of us cried while LISTENING to our favourite violin piece = many times...
Composure is retained---no one stops playing until the heart stops beating---that's the way music is........
I admire violin players who can bow off their crying and finish the job splendidly and if they do not------they gave the attempt in their very best manner---they tried...
Christian Ferras tried and succeeded in this regard.Compare Heifetz and Ferras with the Sibelius Concerto and decide for yourself,who enters their hearts & souls into the music.......
From Marty Dalton
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 04:41 AM
Wow, some of you people are talking like crying is something you can just turn on and turn off. What's this talk about crying when appropriate? When a person can't control it they cry, what's wrong with that? Even if it's after the last movement of Symphonie Fantastique? If a person is touched enough to cry there is no inappropriate time to cry, whether it be a musician or a listener.
From Chris Meyer
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 03:26 PM
^I agree... If a person naturally feels like crying, why is it wrong to suppress that? It's the music that he plays that matters, not what's physically going on...
From RAY WEAVER
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 09:14 PM
Well said, Mendy. In fact I agree with all the last posters. If it comes naturally it is appropriate as long as there is no artificial attempt to create the emotion felt. That said, often the greatest emotion is expressed by those who contain that emotion inside but express it through the music. In movies, the saddest moments are not the result of weeping by the actors - it is when they do not weep but we must weep for them.
From Joe Fischer
Posted on August 16, 2007 at 11:12 PM
Christian Ferras had full realization that his performance of the Sibelius Concerto was the very best he could play.
Christian Ferras was at the apex of his violin career when this piece was recorded.
The climax of his brief career--this is evident in the recording.Such emotion rarely,if ever,displays in the manner of a true master. Two
tears as a summation of a lifetime in the world of a musician.
Incredible to be at the very top of your 'game'..

Ferras was a gem of the world in music...

From Chris Meyer
Posted on August 17, 2007 at 01:44 AM
^agreed... I much prefer him over heifetz.
From Jim Hoyle
Posted on August 17, 2007 at 07:20 PM
You just wish you could have been there to give the bloke a hug when he needed it.

I've seen Stern play with sweat? running down his fiddle and off the scroll. Or was it tears? I often cry when listening but never when playing - and if I did I'd think if was somebody in the audience projecting the emotion onto me!

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on August 17, 2007 at 07:49 PM
"if I did I'd think if was somebody in the audience projecting the emotion onto me! "

That's an interesting thing to say. What do you mean exactly?

From Sander Marcus
Posted on August 17, 2007 at 08:11 PM
Seems to me that one can certainly feel emotions, but that there is a difference between "reacting" to the emotions one feels, and "expressing" or "projecting" the emotions that one feels. As listeners, we "react" to what we feel, and crying is certainly one avenue of reacting. As artists, however, our mission is to "project" what we feel, not just feel it. And to project it so that it communicates to the audience. The problem with crying while playing is that - unlike singers or actors - it really is hard to technically integrate crying into playing the violin. If you're singing a song or acting, crying is not only a reaction, it is part of the art of projecting that feeling to the audience. But it's different with violin playing. I think it does interfere with the perceptual-motor things you have to do to play well. There's something about crying that, I think, interferes with your concentration on what you are doing when you play, because there is absolutely nothing about crying (unlike some body movements or facial expressions) that is physically "linked" to the act of playing the violin.
From Eitan Silkoff
Posted on August 17, 2007 at 10:17 PM
I absolutely love the flow of his bow. And u can do everything and anything while u play and make something yours.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on August 17, 2007 at 11:45 PM
How can you control tears? They come on you like stomach ach or like brilliant ideas everybody wants to know where they come from. They just come to you.
From Sander Marcus
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 11:47 AM
I don't think it's a question of "controlling" the tears - it's more like not letting them control you. If they are a natural expression of how you feel, that's fine, as long as it doesn't get in the way of what you are trying to do with your violin. My point is that the act of crying is physically and psychologically a distraction from what you are trying to do as a violin performer. Those who can cry and play at the same time...well, my hat's off to them. I don't know how they can do it and maintain a high level of performance.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 02:40 PM
Our difference is, Sander, you consider it is an act but I consider it was an event. In this case anyway, I view the tears as somewhat of a nature similar to that of sweat and itching throat. They are very distracting but these events (as opposed to actions) happen to you on stage sometiems and you just do the best you can to handle them. Performers displayed tears or faced such event on stage should be understood rather than being questioned. Also I'm not convinced, in this case, Ferras was controlled by tears, judging from his sound. But you might have heard his better performance on this passage played without tears. If so, I see where you came from.
From Megan Chapelas
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 02:50 PM
Good point, Yixi, but have you considered how often you stop to scratch an itch, blow your nose, or sneeze during practice. Compare that to how seldom it happens when you have to perform. When I have to play, I end up in a different mental/emotional place where I and my body can manage to shut these things out. Don't really know how or why, but the reflex seems to be the same.
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 02:52 PM
Well....so much of it has to do with where you are in life, what the concert is FOR, and what exactly it is that is moving you. Is it the music you are making, is it the people you are making it with, is the the purpose for the concert?

I've cried playing in orchestra concerts for sentimental reasons. Like, a member was playing their last concert. Or it was my last concert with that particular group whome I had come to love as family.

I cried more often as a teenager or young adult while performing in orchestra...the music would just overcome me. And from the standpoint of an orchestral player, I see no problem with that.

It seems we are speaking of solo playing here, though.

I played a "tribute" concert for my fathers' death about a year ago. For most of the concert, the reason FOR the concert and what it was about and why I was doing it didn't enter my mind much. I was concentrating too much on what I was doing and the music and trying to play my very best. But there was one piece, a "pastorale" that I'd arranged for viola and piano that he had composed for violin and piano. I felt like I was going to loose my composure and cry. But instead, I let my face twist up and contort, but put all I felt into my playing. And people in the audience felt it.

However, had I shed a tear, I'm not sure it would have made a difference. As long as the emotion doesn't overcome the playing, I see it as not good or bad. It is what it is, and not to be dissected, really. And although we are "vehicles" for the music, how can we not be involved emotionally?

All the talk about child prodigies growing into their abilities to interpret the music by life experiences, well, does this apply? We bring ourselves and our lives and what we are feeling and going through at that precise moment of our lives into the performance no matter what.

I also played at his funeral. I cried the whole funeral except when I was playing the Bach allemande from Partita no.2. I wasn't forcing the tears away. I wasn't turning off. The notes I played were my tears. Better than anythign I could have said.

But I have cried several times during performance. I don't think it was because I was overcome by the music. I was more overcome by the circumstance surrounding the music. Our emotions, to me, seem based on people and life and what flux and flow do with us and them and it at any given moment. Music is fairly meaningless without associations and a soul for it to "move". Getting a little philisophical here...

But I really mean to say that who cares if a performer cries. And I've been told not to get so involved in the music as I perform, to concentrate more and that it is selfish to get so wrapped up in it. It is only selfish if I am doing it for "the show of it". If I don't get personally involved, then there isn't much to speak of in my performance. When an audience member listens to Bach, for instance....are they thinking of Bach's trials and heartache, are they thinking of mine, or are they relating to their own? Probably their own. And in order for them to find that reflection, I have to find MY own. It is a three-way communication. The composer writes the notes. We are more than just the person to transfer the soul of the composer to the audience. We are transfering OUR soul through the brilliance of the composers' notes on the page, to an audience who then feels their own.

Whatever makes that happen in the most honest way possible, and still be effective and be of quality, that is the answer.

(hand stretches from typing so much so fast...)
-Jennifer

From Christopher Burndrett
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 03:25 PM
Nadja Solerno tends to weep a bit as well - another affected with extreme depression.
From Ray Randall
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 05:53 PM
Two things. During multiple performances of the childrens narrative musical, "The Journey of Sir Douglas Fir," (A super 55 minute thing to do that audiences go ga ga over)there are very funny moments from some of the characters in the "play." even though I had head this quite a few times before the acting professor playing the part of the train conductor was so dang funny I was lauging so hard I had tears streaming down my face and couldn't see. I turned to the CM as we were about to start playing again and said I didn't think I could play right now. He just looked at me with tears of laughter streaming down his face and said "me too."
Does it count if my playing makes the audience cry? After playing I saw two women crying their eyes out. "Hmmm," I thought, "I really nailed that emotional piece" until I heard one say to the other, "I told you we should have gone to the baseball game instead." (wink)
From Bill Busen
Posted on August 18, 2007 at 10:23 PM
But specific associations aside, I will cop to getting misty in the pit, usually due to Puccini.

Our university did Madame Butterfly last year, and one of the students complained before the combined rehearsals started that they would be in the pit and wouldn't be able to tell what was going on up on the stage.

I remember thinking, "That is going to be the very opposite of your problem." In my experience, students are often overwhelmed playing their first tragic opera.

From howard vandersluis
Posted on August 19, 2007 at 03:45 AM
I have played at a couple of funerals for people I knew and loved. Both times, I was too busy and determined to play well for these people to cry, though I cried my eyes out before and after I played. I think if I had begun to cry, it would have been impossible to play. So playing and crying are mutually exclusive...
From Bill Busen
Posted on August 19, 2007 at 05:37 AM
Heifetz, when he was playing for private inspiration in retirement, could be moved to tears playing, according to his pianist/assistant Ayke Agus. Rather a different picture of the inherent balance of passion and control in his musicality than the popular picture of him.
From Jim Hoyle
Posted on August 19, 2007 at 12:37 PM
Jim, what I meant was that I would never lay claim to anything good about my performance myself as I have always tended to be a very bad performer. If I do feel I'd played well I would just be grateful to the audience for the positive feedback that allowed this to happen, all I can do is humbly prepare the music as well as I can.

So likewise with any other aspect of performing, such as is now being discussed.

Whether this approach is 'correct' or not I don't know but it certainly helps me at the moment.

From al ku
Posted on August 19, 2007 at 01:09 PM
here is something that is hardly romantic.

how do your eyes will react will droplets of sweat from your forehead roll into them?

From Anne Horvath
Posted on August 19, 2007 at 04:35 PM
Bill, my first opera, as a student, was Der Rosenkavalier. Wow, those last 20 minutes or so...hardly tragic, and thoroughly gorgeous, but still a great need for hankies! Maybe I am weird, but a lot of sunny music can set off the tear ducts for me.
From Sue Bechler
Posted on August 20, 2007 at 01:39 PM
I cry or tear up at newsclips of disasters, sad commercials, and concerts, and barely made it to the ladies'room after hearing Szeryng play Sibelius years ago, but have not done so while performing. Come close with Jay Ungar's Ashokan Farewell. That tune brought tears for years, even before I experienced the fine little world that is Ashokan fiddle camp. Jay tells the story of playing that for an elderly man way up in the mountains of S.America, and seeing him with tears running freely down his cheeks. Talk about crossing language barriers....
From Johnmark Hatfield
Posted on August 20, 2007 at 03:10 PM
i don't want to be a damper, but it may just be sweat that's collected on his eyelash.

he's sweating bullets from the beginning.

From Joe Fischer
Posted on September 24, 2007 at 09:34 PM
Whenever I hear the 2nd movement by Christian Ferras of the Sibelius Concerto,I cry also---from my experience of viewing him on dvd;shedding 2 tears.
Crying is a HUGE part of being human.
Crying had NO reflection upon playing the proper notations thereof..
Christian Ferras----RULED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From Rita Livs
Posted on September 24, 2007 at 11:15 PM
Did anybody watch Yo-Yo Ma playing with New York Phil. last Tuesday? He played Dvorak's Cello Concerto, and in the middle of 2nd mvnt he seemed like really crying. But it was the best Dvorak I've ever heard...
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on September 25, 2007 at 12:06 AM
he was sweating.

Great performance, I loved it.

From Laura Madden
Posted on September 25, 2007 at 01:24 PM
Recently I was watching a tribute to Pavarotti and the interviewer was asking him what he thought was the reason for his phenomenal success. One of the questions had to do with the amount of emotion he feels while singing and his surprising answer 'Not as much as you would think"
From L.J. Rhodes
Posted on September 25, 2007 at 02:49 PM
Some of my best improv pieces on piano have come from feeling absolutely wretched. I was sad, even to the point of feeling deeply depressed. As I played, I just played what I felt, and I started to cry. I kept playing...and playing...and playing...and the more I played, the harder I cried.

When I finally looked around the room, everyone else was crying, too. Hey, it was worth it to me to look a fool who cries over keys to be able to make others feel what I felt. I think it did us all some good to have a big bawl fest. ;)

So, I can easily see crying while playing violin, too. Music goes far beyond any other language we have for communicating emotions...even moreso than body language. And that's saying something. I'm actually puzzled that more musicians don't get swept away and end up crying while making their music.

From Susan D
Posted on November 3, 2007 at 08:28 AM
Um, slightly off topic, but what's with his bow hold? He's doing everything I've been told *not* to do: straight 4th finger (even at the heel) and thumb completely concave. Am I missing some great technique here, or is playing so well despite these unorthodox methods? Or was it just the fashion of the times?
From Jenny Fischer
Posted on November 5, 2007 at 06:36 AM
I've cried on stage before... once while playing Nimrod and once while playing the Bruch violin concerto #1 first movement during my recital at the end of my senior year of high school.
From Randy Mollner
Posted on November 5, 2007 at 06:04 PM
As a teenager I played Viola for a youth symphony that had a performance in Carnegie Hall. I remember that I was so awed and amped up by the experience that, during the rehearsal the afternoon of the Concert, the opening lines of March Slav seemed like the purest, saddest, most beautiful thing I had ever heard and I was unable to stop crying for most of the way through the piece.
That said, there is a huge difference between being moved to tears, a fairly minor physical response to a variety of emotional states, involving a very small part of one's body, and breaking down in shaking sobs. It seems to me that allowing tears to flow freely does not constitute any significant loss of physical control.
From Allan Speers
Posted on November 6, 2007 at 03:04 AM
Well, MANY people have been known to cry profusely whenever I play.
-Except Emil, who laughs contentedly and mutters something derisive about pop music under his breath.
---------

But seriously:

I take my hat off to anyone who is able to so completely expose themselves to an audience that they can truly cry in public. That is almost the definition of a great artist. (with the exception of Ms Hahn, but that's a whole 'nother discussion.)

The question to be answered, though, is whether such a display adds to the performance, or somehow distracts from the emotional content of the music. In other words, if that physical display were instead somehow channeled into the bow, and someone listened with their eyes closed, would the performance be enhanced? If the same performance were given with and without the tears, would there then be an audible difference?

I think that most likely, the answer is yes to both, but I have no idea how you would prove this or even test it.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on November 7, 2007 at 06:48 PM
Great link, great replies. I have to say, if there were ever a time to be moved to tears, he sure picked the right concerto, the right movement and the right section of it - pretty much where I, as a listener, am eternally reduced to tears.

That said, I would have to second, or third, the thought that it could be sweat. I even backed it up to check. It rolls out of his eye like a tear. But he was indeed sweating quite a bit.

Thanks for posting the link and the question.

Ilya Gringolts

Contest: Paganini Caprices

Enter to win Ilya Gringolts' recording of the 24 Caprices by Paganini.