We have just learned that tennis star Naomi Osaka, probably the most exciting and magnetic player today, has dropped out of the French Open. She was very open about her reasons for doing so. The stress of being interviewed by aggressive reporters was making her anxious.
She opened up about being stressed and depressed and asked for some time off. Around the world, a few callous people have attacked her for not doing her job. But more and more top athletes are commending her for her bravery in admitting that she was having a problem, and the additional bravery to confront it.
Why are we writing about her on Classical Archives?
We are doing so because we know that many performing classical musicians have experienced problems similar to those that Naomi Osaka was willing to admit to. How many classical musicians have had to bounce back from bad performances or bad auditions? How many of us have had to pick ourselves up and walk back out on stage after getting bad reviews from know-little critics? How many of us have lived with stage fright every day of our lives? How many of us have had to put on brave faces while our careers were stalling, or going downhill?
Many of us have. But few of us have had the courage of a Naomi Osaka. Naomi, your bravery might well have empowered more musicians to admit that we are not invulnerable. Sometimes it is very hard to carry on. Sometimes we, like you, need to have the strength to say we need help.
So with that said, together let us share this performance of the slow movement – the so-called Adagietto – from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Mahler, we know, was chronically depressed, which you can surely hear in this music. But what beauty he left behind. Perhaps we can too.