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Re: A more dramatic retirement from performing than Glenn Gould's!

I imagine the life of a touring concert pianist or world-class soloist is, for most human beings, Living Hell.
Sure, you get to see Yokahama and Durban, and I love to travel, and a lot of that would be very cool.
But not on a forced march, 200 venues a year.
The best hotel in town is still not my home. Every intimacy -- bed, mattress, pillow, bathroom, chair, desk, shower, nightlight, phone, coffee if there is any without calling room service -- is different from what I know and what I like. When I wake in the middle of the night to stumble to the bathroom in the dark because I can't find the light switch, I stand a good chance of toppling over the balcony.
The best room service food, or the best food in the best restaurant in town, is still not my kitchen. In fact it's deliciously fatal: dripping with cream and butter and sugar (and lard -- every great chef knows perfect desserts have to be made with lard), to prove it's worth the price. I imagine that a concert tour, unless very careful discipline and planning accompanies it, is a four-month-long bout of stomach discomfort and the fast track to heart disease.
I just saw on CNN that doctors now think men's tightly tied neckties contribute to high blood pressure. Doh. Imagine what formal concert clothes, male and female, do to the human body 200 nights a year. And yet if a great pianist strolls out in old jeans, sneakers and a really comfie t-shirt, concertgoers are offended and think they've been ripped off. 
Rude treatment is easier on the soul than the Royal Treatment. You can defend yourself and snap back at rude treatment.
But when well-meaning, adoring strangers are trying desperately to satisfy your every whim -- and doing it really suffocatingly and ineptly in strange tongues -- your soul twists up in knots because you can't fight back or scream. Every time you lose your temper, you seal your reputation as a temperamental prima donna. Nobody takes notice when you act like a normal, rational, polite guy or gal -- but exploding, that's memorable!
Your performance itself is routinely reviewed in the local paper by some guy who doubles as the garden columnist and can't even play the kazoo. You play for 2 hours and hit one wrong note, and that's the first paragraph and the headline.
Everywhere you go, everybody wants a piece of you. I love people, I love to meet strangers and chat. But forty adoring fans and well-wishers a night? How many times a year can I stand to hear that I'm wonderful?
Or worse -- if I'm REALLY wonderful, on a par with Gould, how many stalkers do I have to put up with each year? Not only do they think I'm wonderful, but they've convinced themselves that we're Soulmates and Fate demands we spend the rest of our lives together. That's why they're waiting for me in the bathroom down the hall from my dressing room. Because I wasn't answering their fifty mash notes.
You get a little bit of this excruciating and miserable side of concert performing -- played for laughs, but very uncomfortable laughs -- in the Peter Sellers film, "The World of Henry Orient." (You don't sympathize as much as you do for Gould, because Henry Orient is more like Philip Glass or John Cage. If he gets brained by a falling stagelight, half the audience figures he composed it that way and applauds.)
We're lucky this guy just dropped a piano. After holding out on the concert trail for so long, others might have dropped explosives.
-----Original Message-----
From: Nessie Russell <nessierussell@YAHOO.CA>
To: F_MINOR@email.rutgers.edu <F_MINOR@email.rutgers.edu>
Date: Thursday, July 31, 2003 7:49 AM
Subject: Re: A more dramatic retirement from performing than Glenn Gould's!

>Hi Dorian and Tom,
>If you had read my post all the way through you would
>have seen that I agree with you about dumping the
>We often say "I wish I had thought of that" without
>actually going out and doing it.
>The whole episode is like a Gouldian fantasy.  It
>makes a good story.  Doing it is another matter.  The
>life of a concert pianist is not all glamour.  I for
>one, think GG had the right idea.