T is for Temperamental

“The temperamental artist”: a cliché to make a performer smile. By long experience, we learn what’s necessary for our best work. To be fresh when playing, I take a nap. I eat enough beforehand to not be hungry, but not so much I’m slowed by digesting. I request that the tuner work close to concert-time and stay to “touch up” at intermission. These steps assure my best concert for the audience, and best value-for-money for the presenter.

Instead of a concert-grand (nine feet long), the presenter supplies a seven-foot piano, inadequate for this hall and this program. “We had a pianist from Europe on our faculty last year. She said this hall was too small for a concert-grand.” My expostulations regarding breach of contract, failure of presenter and pianist to understand acoustics, etc.—remain unspoken. The audience is now in line to get less than full musical enjoyment.

The presenter continues, “There’s no place here to eat on Sundays, but I can get you an energy bar. And the tuner charges extra on weekends, so the piano was tuned two days ago.”

I imagine violinists forced to tune two days in advance and forbidden to tune again; clarinetists made to play on 3/4-sized instruments and judged by audiences and reviewers on their ability to make music on them. I imagine concert presenters confined on bread and water ’til they acknowledge the purpose of our mutual endeavor: to give pleasure and emotional satisfaction to the audience.

The performer tries to give his best concert. The presenter ignores realities and legalities, expects the performer to take all in stride, and at the slightest jib, accuses the performer of being “temperamental.”

Who is really the temperamental one?

Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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