With Halloween just a few days away, we are surrounded with images of the terrifying and frightening. I tend to avoid focusing on the events of October 31 because the images have always frightened me. To be honest, I am easily scared. It would not be surprising to hear that there's a yellow streak running down my back.
As I think back over my years as a student, I realize that certain pieces have given me nightmares. A few served as soundtracks to my own horrific nighttime dreams, but the normal source of my musical nightmares were pieces that were too difficult for me at the time.
The piece that immediately comes to mind is Chopin's F minor Fantasy. I was first introduced to the piece as a college junior. The Fantasy was to serve as the closing piece of my senior recital. For various reasons, the piece continually got ignored during my lessons, but remained a major focus of my personal practice sessions. This represented my first journey into the world of Chopin's larger works and I was extremely excited.
My excitement turned into panic when my professor discovered that I had practiced key passages of the piece incorrectly. The resulting tension made it impossible to play the work in its entirety. Rather than scraping the piece entirely, my teacher and I foolishly concurred that it was imperative to work on the piece since so much time had already been invested.
As the semester progressed, I was finally able to stumble through the entire work. As I fretted over the technical demands, memorization became a new and seemingly insurmountable problem. The recital hearing was a disaster and resulted in my first failing score as a piano student.
As you have probably assumed, the recital was completely restructured the following year. Thankfully, the Chopin Fantasy was no longer part of the plan. Since that horrible experience, I have attempted to revisit the piece on numerous occasions. Sadly, the work is now firmly connected with feelings of apprehension and has yet to be successfully performed publicly. I have come to accept the fact that this masterpiece may never have a place in my repertoire.
So that's the story of my musical nightmare and it continues to haunt me. I don't think I'm the only one who has had one of these disasters, though. I would love to hear your horrifying stories as well. (What can I say? Misery loves company!)