‘Right before I go on stage is not my favourite moment’: Joshua Bell opens up about pre-performance anxiety

26 May 2017, 16:51

Joshua Bell – Edinburgh International Festival portrait

The great violinist spoke to EIF ahead of his performance

00:19

By Amy MacKenzie

The celebrated violinist Joshua Bell is performing at this year's Edinburgh International Festival and he's spoken to the festival about how he first discovered music, the emotive experience of live performance and why music means so much to him.

Joshua Bell is one of the greatest violinists of our time, but isn’t afraid to admit that even the professionals get pre-performance nerves. 

In an interview for the Edinburgh International Festival, he said:

“Right before I go on stage, it’s not my favourite moment to tell you the truth, there’s the nerves and anxiety and trying to get into that zone – which inevitably happens once the music starts. Once the music starts and I start playing, I wouldn’t say I become a different person because it’s really getting in touch with who I am, you’re exposing yourself in a very vulnerable way which is I think one of the gifts that you need as a musician. You need to do that unselfconsciously and be able to do that in front of lots of people.”

He also spoke about one of his earliest memories of music: “When I was 3 or 4 years old, I used to take rubber bands and I would string them across my dresser drawers in my bedroom, and I would open up the drawers to create pitches and I would try to copy songs that I had heard. I was just fascinated with the physics of it, how the strings make sounds. My parents discovered me doing this and said ‘Ok, let’s get him a violin’.”

He went on to say: “Music is a magical thing. I feel incredibly lucky that I was shown music at a very early age - I’ve made it my life – but it’s a way of expressing some of the great essences of the human spirit, of the world, of the universe, in ways that are so hard to put into words, things we feel. Somehow when we hear great music it sort of resonates and we feel like we understand the world a little bit better.”

You can buy tickets for Joshua Bell's performances at the Edinburgh International Festival from 21-23rd August here and watch the whole interview below:

Classic FM Apps

Get the Classic FM app for iPhone, iPad and Android - now with HD audio

rune brodahl horn player

Joyous: this horn player absolutely lets rip during a ballet performance

Backstreet Boys in the style of Bach

The Backstreet Boys' 'I Want It That Way' in the style of a Bach Allemande

Sunshine

Quiz: Answer these questions and we'll tell you what your ultimate summer banger is