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Many a performer has been forced to cancel a concert when the rigors of an intensive schedule led to a physical or emotional breakdown. Occasionally a concert goes awry because of a smaller problem–simple confusion.

Consider a news item in The Philadelphia Inquirer regarding the case of Thomas Zehetmair, who was slated to play Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Philadelphia Orchestra on February 15, 2002. Zehetmair allowed himself plenty of time to relax during the afternoon on the day of the eight o’clock concert. Just before two o’clock, he left his hotel room and went for a walk. Somewhere along the way, he had a look at a newspaper and discovered that the concert was not at eight in the evening, but two in the afternoon. At that very moment, 2,500 people were at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall waiting for him to perform.

The horrified violinist dashed to his room threw on his concert attire, and ran to the concert hall, arriving at 2:20 or so to find that the orchestra had just launched into the only other work on the program–the Third Symphony of Reinhold Glière–an eighty-minute musical epic that left no time to tack the Mozart concerto at the end of the delayed concert.

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Zehetmair voiced his dismay. “I am very miserable,” he said. “I have been performing for twenty-four years or something, and it’s really the first time this has happened.”

Some audience members were similarly taken aback. One recalled that in sixty years of concerts the only times that performances had failed to go through had to do with a presidential assassination and the discovery of cracked beams in the roof of the concert hall.

Fortunately Thomas Zehetmair did not have to wait long to redeem himself. Of a repeat concert scheduled for the following night–at eight o’clock–he said, “I will certainly be there on time.” And he was.

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