A bridge I’ve had since before most of you were born has popped out so I’m off to the dentist.  Somebody write something provocative or amusing for this space.

(There must some amusing stories about musicians or singers who’ve encountered medical/dental/psychiatric emergencies in the middle of performances.)

10 Responses to “Dental Emergency Monday”
  1. Jerry Bowles says:

    I’m sure some of you remember when tenor Richard Versalle died on stage at the Met back in 1996. It was the opening scene of The Makropulos Case and he had just climbed up a ladder to fetch a book, delivered the altogether fitting lines “It is too bad that one only lives so long” when he plunged face forward into the sweet hereafter. I wasn’t there (we had tickets for the second performance) but a friend was. He reported that it was quite dramatic. In the second performance, by the way, the ladder was gone and the book was retrieved from a lower shelf.

    The bridge? Structurally sound. My dentist re-cemented it which I suspect should be adequate for the duration.

  2. Alex Ross says:

    Peter Davis of New York magazine (then of the New York Times) famously attended a debut recital at Weill Hall (then Carnegie Recital hall) at which a nervous young pianist walked out, sat down, and threw up all over the keyboard.

  3. Vanessa Lann says:

    Well, to return to teeth, there was the time in the mid-eighties when Victor Yampolsky was conducting the Tanglewood Youth Orchestra during Stravinsky’s “Firebird”. After a week of quite grueling rehearsals, the players were a bit on-edge about the performance. Near the end of the piece a microphone which had been attached to the ceiling of the “Tanglewood Theater” (remember that old building?) came unattached, swung down, hit him in the head and knocked out at least one tooth. Ouch. Well, you asked about teeth… I don’t know what happened to the tooth in the end, other than maybe that “The tooth is out there…”

  4. Hmmm… there was that performance with the Broadway tour of “Titanic” where our local oboe decided he didn’t feel good and got up and went home midway through Act I, leaving the conductor to ‘reorchestrate’ the show during the show. He passed out score pages and passed the oboe book around to other players and gave verbal instructions while still doing his other job of directing the show and cuing singers.

    There was also the New Year’s Eve where our principal viola didn’t feel well and went to leave the stage. The door required more effort than she could expend and she ended up doing the “Nestea Plunge” on the stage. I was feet away behind the drumset and couldn’t move while watching the whole thing in slow motion. The viola was unharmed, however, the violist spent a couple of days at The Clinic(tm). The concert was broadcast live. You can hear it all, including the eternal question “Is there a doctor in the house?” followed by the awkward cut back to the station for 45 minutes while EMS did it’s thing.

    I don’t know if these stories are ‘amusing,’ however, they are true.

  5. Seth Gordon says:

    A psychological one comes to mind, though not quite mid-performance: I remember a story about Porl Thompson (guitarist for The Cure, for you non-pop people) being asked to play on one of Paul McCartney’s tours. Supposedly he was fine up until the moment they started practicing “We Can Work It Out” – and then it hit him he was playing with an actual Beatle and he had a massive anxiety attack. Story was they tried again and again and every time he’d just freak out, so Sir Paul finally had to replace him.

    Musicians can be so frickin’ weird sometimes…

  6. Wiley’s definition of “Bridge” from the old B.C. comic strip:

    “What a dentist decides to put into your mouth when his kid’s college tuition is due.”

  7. Rodney Lister says:

    Robert Helps claimed to have a recurring dream in which he went to hear a performance of Dame Myra Hess playing Beethoven Sonatas. In the middle of things she stopped playing, got up from the piano bench, faced the audience, “gyrated obscenely,” and dropped dead. Helps, who was seated in the balcony, swung down on a rope and finished the recital.

  8. zeno says:

    „Zur neugekrönten Hoffnung“

  9. Daniel says:

    According to Joan Tower, she received the Grawemeyer at a time when she needed some expensive dental work done.

  10. No dental/medical/psychiatric emergencies, but I did have a dream the night before my senior recital that all the keys fell off of my sax ten minutes before the performance.