Have all musicians those dreams? Like: ‘I sit on stage with a huge audience waiting, and have no clue what I am supposed to play’? These are usually mid-vacation dreams. There are many variations: I know that I was supposed to prepare this programme, but I didn’t – dare I play it anyway? Can I fill the concert with improvising in the style? (dreams are funny) Is there someone else in the audience who wants to play a little?
My all-time favorite dream that once hit me ten days into a hiking vacation in the Alps was this:
I am assigned to conduct the Concertgebouw orchestra. This is a short-term gig: as the curtain of my dream goes up, I am standing on stage, the house is full, the soloist is waiting (Vladimir Ashkenazy) and I have had no chance to look at the score at all (Brahms’s first piano concerto). So, naturally, I take flight up those endless stairs and try to hide someplace. Unfortunately, that place turns out to be some sort of (fictive) recording-engineer’s booth with a huge panorama window to the hall. People start pointing at me and I wake up.
Dreams like that possibly take the edge off one’s jumpiness in true life. Recently I had travelled a whole day to play at a birthday party (70…many guests. Harpsichord maker…some musical guests.). A few hours before that event, I noticed that I had forgotten the music for the e-minor flute sonata by Bach. Hajo, the flutist, had probably already left home and didn’t answer his cell phone, so I was a little stuck there. I fumbled through the continuo part a few times by memory and when Hajo arrived we did it just like that, from memory. It worked really fine, but such stunts are not the thing one likes to repeat on command. Luckily there was good food and wine afterwards.