Printer-friendly version
The Weekend Vote weekend vote: What would you do...

September 29, 2007 at 6:07 AM

From Albert Justice
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 6:10 AM
Shifting having been mastered......
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 6:20 AM
I'm assuming the option of leaving the stage to change the A string is a type-o. Of course, I would probably be so completely flustered I would in fact change the wrong string...
From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 6:21 AM
Ah, you fixed it. I still vote for changing the A string!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 6:26 AM
I probably would change the wrong string or put an A on the E or some crazy thing!

One good solution I witnessed was to trade violins with the concertmaster, then have someone in the section go backstage and change the string. Though I might be trembling if I were the section member chosen to string up someone's soulmate Strad...

From Bart Meijer
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 7:24 AM
As a boy I was in a concert when this happened. The soloist swapped fiddles with the concertmaster, who went backstage to put on a new string.
I was then told it's standard procedure for all except Paganini.
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 7:33 AM
Well, if it's the NY Phil...the concertmaster probably plays on a better fiddle than I do. lol
From Ben Clapton
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 8:36 AM
I played in a concert where the soloist broke her E string in the last movement. Violins were swapped between her and the Concert-mistress so quick that many orchestra members didn't notice what had happened. But I agree with Kelsey - if it's the NY Phil, the Concert master would definitely have a better violin than mine.
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 8:39 AM
Something like that happened a couple times. Depending on the concerto, violin and venue, I would make different choices. My preference is just to go off stage for a couple seconds and change strings. I have managed to play once through to the end of the movemetns (with a little bit of fantasy in readjusting notes!) and then change between the movements.

However, that one time in my life I would get to perform with NYPhil I would stop and change strings. I would want the performance to be as good as possible and I know my own violin the best. The audience can wait 2 minutes!

TIP: Leave your violincase as close to the stage as possible. Some concerthalls you have to walk halve a mile or the green room is on another floor. It will safe you a long walk when something happens on stage and you don't want to think about what would happen if you would trip from nerves walking to the stage.

The only exception on this would be the Concertgebouw. You have to walk down some scary stairs in the hall. So if you break a string there and you happen to be playing with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, you are better off taking the first or second concertmaster's violin, who are very good by the way!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 11:09 AM
I've only seen this happen once, with a student performance. The soloist changed his E string himself there on the stage. He was playing the Saent-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and couldn't have continued without an Eing. Once he had changed it, he just started over and played the whole thing again.

Later, after that concert, someone told me (maybe even my teacher, I can't remember) that it was recommended to switch instruments with the concertmaster in that situation. So that's what I would do, in theory.

But I realized in thinking about this that the violinist I've always dreamed of being doesn't play solo concerti with the New York Philharmonic.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 12:48 PM
For those of us who voted "Trade fiddles with the concertmaster", yes, the CM of the NY Phil has a nice violin, but I would rather swap with the CM of the San Francisco Symphony....that concertmaster has one of the greatest violins ever...when MTT calls me to solo on the Beethoven, I will be sure to sabotage my own E string...

Also, I want to qualify the opening sentence "You are the violinist you always dreamed of being". Sometimes I find my self thinking "Gee, I wish I sounded more like Michael Rabin", but I never find myself thinking "Gee, I wish I had Michael Rabin's life."

From Deborah McCann
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 1:18 PM
I was told by my teacher before my first solo with an orchestra that I was to trade violins with the concertmaster if a string broke. Years later, Perlman was playing with the Tucson Symphony and that is what he did. My teacher was the concertmaster! It was so fast and smooth you did not even see it happen. They switched back between movements-equally smooth.

I love my violin, but agree, the concertmaster of any major symphony would have a better instrument than I do. Now, if I still had my Guad.....

Here is a possible question for the future-what is the best instrument you have ever played?

From Mara Gerety
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 2:21 PM
haha I might sabotage my E string too if I was playing with the NY Phil...Hey, Mr. Dicterow, gimme that fiddle! :) :) :)
From Rick Savadow
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 2:45 PM
Hmmm, I've no frame of reference. I'm a fiddler who plays for dancers. I
1. Transpose down a key
2. Make up a new tune that doesn't need the E string.
3. Vocalize and keep tapping the beat.
4. Hope Glen Dicterow was out there dancing and would graciously lend me his fiddle. Thank ya, Glen
From Solomon Liang
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 3:32 PM
Gil Shaham performed the Brahms violin concerto about ten years ago in Taiwan. He broke his E string in the middle of the 2nd mvt. He took the Concertmistress's violin, and it was like a huge drop in tone quality.
From Alison S
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 5:04 PM
My dream scenario would be jamming, so there would be no concertmaster option. If required I would positively relish going as high up on the A as possible, and wringing some plaintive sounds out of my violin - it would suit the situation. If things got really desperate there is always the option of down an octave. (Changing the strings wouldn't work for me, because that usually unsettles the other strings for a period.)
From Albert Justice
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 5:52 PM
Well, my vote doesn't change Laurie--I understood it as e from the start.

That, as are many of the conversations here, so far beyond me that my green answer is no more or less than a reflection of that color.

I'd be shak'n so bad at NY that they'd think I was an Elvis impersonator anyway, most checking their tickets to make sure they were in the right venue.

From Charles Bott
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 6:24 PM
I attended a recital of Perlman's about 2 years ago in Cerritos, CA. During the recital he broke a string (can't remember which one) but I do remember exactly what he said to the packed house. I quote: In the old days when this happened, you'd just bring out another Strad and continue, but today you do this. And with that one of his assistants brought out a replacement string, he replaced the broken one, tuned and continued as if nothing happened. I was sitting center about 6 rows back and was amazed at the whole process--one I'm sure has happened often over his long career.
From Jasmine Reese
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 6:55 PM
I think it would be so sad for the concertmaster to have to relinquish his or her violin. What if the soloist breaks it?
From Liana Goldsmith
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 8:31 PM
this actually happened to me when i was playing at a fundraising concert once when i was twelve. i actually didn't even have an extra eing so i had to finish the concert by shifting on the aing. i did it, although i'm sure it didn't sound that great...since that day, i always have a set of new and a set (or twelve) of old strings on hand, just in case!
From Ian S
Posted on September 29, 2007 at 10:06 PM
Glenn Dicterow plays on a 1727 del Gesu owned by the Philharmonic, I believe. Trading with him, or other concertmasters might not be a pitfall: Viktoria Mullova came to play with the Minnesota Orchestra and her violin was blocked by security in London. She played on the associate concertmistress' violin and it sounded far better than I've ever heard her on her Strad.
From Sister Mary Elizabeth
Posted on September 30, 2007 at 1:36 AM
I saw this happen in concert. The soloist changed violins with the concertmaster, who changed violins with the assistant concertmaster. The AC changed the string & returned the violin to the concertmaster who at the next opportune moment gave it back to the soloist. Very gracefully done with no break in the music.
From howard vandersluis
Posted on September 30, 2007 at 4:02 AM
I saw the violist in the Tokyo quartet lose a string in a beethoven quartet. They came to a really funny halt, and the violist went backstage to change his string while somebody (the first violinist?) told jokes and talked about the hazards of live music. When the violist came back, they asked the audience if the quartet should start from the beginning of the movement, or from where they stopped. The audience demanded that they start from the beginning of the movement.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 30, 2007 at 4:27 AM
I remember reading that Midori broke a string when she was performing a concerto at a young age. She not only switched to the concertmaster's violin, but she did it so calmly and cooly that she impressed everyone.

I also remember a now-famous story about Pearlman breaking a string during a solo performance. He kept on playing on three strings, transposing as he went, and played beautifully, as if nothing had gone wrong. He's a genius.

From Antonello Lofù
Posted on October 1, 2007 at 8:14 AM
I would play a recording of the piece pretending to keep going playing.

That's another chance.

From Antonello Lofù
Posted on October 1, 2007 at 8:16 AM
Or I would use that situation to make an add for the concurrent brend of string:

"This would have never happened if I had used .... strings! :)"

putting in the pocket a lot of money!

From Linda L
Posted on October 1, 2007 at 8:18 PM
I would start dancing.
From Daniel Broniatowski
Posted on October 2, 2007 at 12:47 AM
I saw Gil Shaham play Elgar Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra about 7 years ago. One of his strings broke and he switched violins with William Preucil (concertmaster). I got the impression that both musicians enjoyed the experience of trying each other's violins! They kept smiling at each other throughout the movement as well because the situation was so unexpected.
On a side note, I had a similar experience a few weeks ago for my university orchestra audition - immediately before going into the room with the panel my E string broke! Somehow this actually had a very positive effect on my concenatration as it forced me to become more alert. It also gave me the confidence to know that I could calm myself down in a much more extreme situation than I expected!
From Pishta Nagybasci
Posted on October 2, 2007 at 11:25 PM
We should ask the ghost of Isaac Stern. (WWID?) I saw him with San Francisco in 78 playing Mozart D WITH THE MUSIC! I was watching from back stage as I had to play celesta after intermission (no I'm not a violinist.) He unglued his face from his score temporarily, lost his place and proceeded to play the fastest up bow I've ever seen whacking his e string with the frog so hard that it literally exploded. He sauntered off stage to change his string and presumably learn the passage he couldn't remember. No disrespect to the man who saved Carnegie Hall, but he should have stopped concertizing in the 60's.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine