Pianist’s page-turn nightmare as Chopin score goes flying across stage

17 January 2023, 17:50

Page turn fail
Page turn fail. Picture: YouTube / Rodney Leinberger

By Kyle Macdonald

Every classical musician’s great fear: pages of music flying around the stage during the pressure of a university recital.

Music took flight in this recital. Unfortunately, quite literally.

This footage from a conservatoire recital in autumn 2010 has become a staple of page-turn fail compilations on YouTube, with millions watching in thankfulness that they were not victims of soaring scores.

The performance at John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University featured a cellist with pianist and faculty member Ronald Levy on 88 keys. Together they play Frédéric Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G minor.

Read more: Piano eats accompanist’s sheet music in page turning nightmare

During the fast-paced drama of the finale, Levy is caught up in the pace of the music. Perhaps he forgot his music was held together not in a book, but by a somewhat more fragile hole-punch and ring binder. Or maybe he didn’t know his own strength while in full pianistic flow.

But while rapidly turning the page with a flourish he rips the music from the binder, sending the page flying behind him. Watch it unfold below...

Pianist keeps it cool as page turn sends sheet flying across the hall

Levy bravely tries to continue from memory. But alas, there’s not quite enough.

Much to the credit to all involved, the music halts, the pianist makes a nimble swirl on his stool, the errant page is gathered, placed, turned, and turned once more. Then, with a little eye contact between the duo, the Chopin sonata can resume.

“Grace under pressure,” writes the recital’s videographer and YouTube uploader Rodney Leinberger.

Page-turn fails happen, but with cool heads, and musical grace, all can be well, even in the most pressurised recitals. You might even go viral on YouTube.