Sometimes taking a team member outside the role in which they are most comfortable falls flat on its face.
The German French horn player, Bruno Jaenicke (1887-1946), was, for many years, the principal hornist of the New York Philharmonic and a truly great one. He can be heard on many of Toscanini’s recordings. He rarely missed a note and was held in very high regard by the profession. In November 1931, at a concert with the guest conductor, Erich Kleiber, Jaenicke was booked to play Strauss’ first horn concerto. Standing in front of the orchestra, he was completely unnerved, fumbled, missed notes and sounded like an amateur. After the first two movements, he walked off stage and didn’t return. It was announced to the audience that Jaenicke was unwell and that the piece would be dropped from the programme. Backstage, Jaenicke was seen smashing his horn by jumping on it and later reportedly got blindingly drunk. It was at least a week before Jaenicke reappeared. He returned to the section with no explanations and resumed his career as America’s finest horn player.