James Galway, flute soloist, has the music in front of him

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a soloist (of long hair music) do this.

Isn’t this sort of odd?

The music,BTW, was Ibert’s Flute Concerto.

I’m not an expert on flute solos, but where else would the music be if not in front of him? Or is it surprising that he hasn’t memorized it?

The latter.

In all the concerts I’ve attended, and seen on TV, the soloist always had the evening’s piece(s) memorized. This applies to violinists,pianists, cellists, kazooists and ocarinaistas.

I’ve never seen a classical soloist who had to have the music in order to play, except for once. When I was a kid, we had some community concerts and one was a pair of pianists. They did use music. I remember it vivdly because my grandfather – who knew his classical music – had utter disdain for the musicians for doing so.

I’ve seen Rampal perform and he didn’t have music then. Maybe this was toward the end of his career when he needed some extra help.

Would you be more impressed if you thought he was sight reading?

I remember hearing a radio discussion about this once. There’s a lot of pressure on concert musicians to play a piece without music - but why? It’s become the accepted norm. We would laugh at a musician who needed the music in front of him/her.

But when you actually think about it, there’s no particular reason why not having the music should make the pianist (or whatever) play the piece any better. In fact they would probably play it better with the music there so they don’t have to fret about remembering the next bit.

It should be just a test of how well the musician can play but it’s become a test of two different things - playing ability and a memory test. What if you happen to be a great musician with a shit memory?

The orchestra does the same - sight reads? No rehearsals? Everybody juat goes on stage and wings it? Are you serious?

Your criticism of a virtuoso flautist with decades of experience, playing with an experienced orchestra, is about how he looked because the music was in front of him? Are you sure your concentration is in the right place?

Musicians like Galway fly in, play, and fly out. And are well-paid for that effort. No one is complaining about the effect on their ears, and when they do the positioning of the score will be low on the list of topics.

An instrumentalist rehearses his concert works so much he ends up memorizing them. I suppose if one of them had a shit memory, the conductor would allow him to use the music scores.

Hell, when I was taking piano lessons back in the 90’s - and an utter beginner - my teacher was impressed by the fact that that he’d give me assignments one week, and when I came back the next, I played them from memory. No secret. I was a no talent piano wannabe who practiced many hours per day.

And what about pop artists in their concerts?

Ever see Madonna rely on music sheets? Springstein? Streisand? Rock bands?

**I do not understand what you’re saying here with “and when they do the positioning of the score will be low on the list of topics.”

What is “positioning of the score”?

Going to bed now, so I won’t be able to respond any more tonight.

And I was exactly the opposite, a musician who couldn’t memorize, but could read complex music on sight the first time.

And the second and third times. I find it extremely hard to memorize, but easy to sight read. This made my performance for my BA degree (which required memorizing) excruciating, but playing from a stack of unfamiliar pop music easy and delightful.

I had a colleague in music school who was about at the same technological level as I. He had a very hard time playing a new piece the first time, agonizing over every note on the music. Me, I read it pretty decently the first time I saw it.

But after reading it a few times, he discarded the music and played it from memory. Me, I had to have it in front of me every time I played it or I was lost.

The moral: YMMV.

Yes. Not sheet music, but printed lyrics. Most recently, Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Denny Lane (of Wings) and Lou Gramm (of Foreigner) did a 10 date tour performing the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s”. Gramm had brain surgery to remove a benign tumor in 1999 and his memory was damaged. All his lyrics were printed out and taped to a guitar case in front of him.

When The Who performed “Quadrophenia”, there were teleprompters all over the stage showing the lyrics. Daltrey didn’t appear to be relying on them, but special guests Billy Idol and Gary Glitter did.

Zappa’s various bands had fully sheet music regularly. Frank wanted it played right.

Recen thread on related topic: Why Don’t Rock Musicians Need Musical Scores?

It’s not all that unusual, once you get beyond the core repertoire. I saw Carolin Widmann at the Proms last month playing the Stravinsky violin concerto, with the part in front of her (note: not the ‘score’, that’s the one the conductor uses, which shows every instrument’s part). That’s not an obscure piece for a violinist, by any means, especially not for one with a leaning towards 20th century and contemporary music.

Indeed, with plenty of more recent pieces, where there are sometimes few or no opportunities for page turns, it’s not uncommon to see the music arranged along a whole line of stands, or for it to be arranged onto huge sheets, the latter with pianists in particular.