Among those currently or recently cancelling concerts for health reasons:
Pianist Murray Perahia.
He had to drop out of an American tour this spring with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Official word was "a skin infection for which he has been treated." But Perahia's cancellations began in the winter, and continue now. Let's hope the 61 year-old Mr. Perahia is not suffering a relapse of the thumb problems he suffered in the early 90s which kept him out of action for a couple of years, or finger problems that forced him to cancel concerts in 2006.
Pianist Martha Argerich.
She canceled a set of concerts with the New York Philharmonic in April, the Philharmonic press release said it was "due to illness."
Argerich has battled several physical ailments over the years. In the early 90s she was diagnosed with melanoma, and had a recurrence in the mid 90s. The LA Times reported that she had a gall bladder operation in 2006. Last year several concerts were canceled, officially because of fatigue or exhaustion. But it must be said...for someone with a reputation for cancelations, Argerich has played the vast majority of her scheduled concerts in recent months.
Violinist Itzhak Perlman.
"Shoulder inflammation" kept him from concerts in Missouri, Tuscaloosa , Gainesville, and a concert in Athens, GA this spring. (He fought through it to play concerts in Washington DC, and Naples, Florida this season.) Perlman had rotator cuff surgery in 2003. No official word on whether the current inflammation is a recurrence.
Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Aimard had back pain, and was unable to play a set of concerts with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in May. He seems to be on the mend, though -- he played his scheduled concert last week in London. And last week did this interview with the newly chatty Wall Street Journal.
Tenor Juan Diego Florez.
In the most bizarre musical injury in recent memory, Florez was forced to cancel his performances at Chicago's Lyric Opera this year because of an infection after he swallowed a fishbone. But Florez is back in style, fishbone long forgotten, with one of the memorable classical stories of 2008.
If you're an injured musician, here's a support group of your peers.
Classical musicians, like athletes, depend on their physical health for top performance. And I can't help but notice the contrast between athletes and classical players when it comes to talking about injuries. The sports page is full of detailed accounts of physical breakdowns and recoveries (Tiger's knee, Soriano's finger, Rondo's ankle, all making headlines just TODAY). Classical musicians, especially the A-listers, keep their injuries quiet. Why?
My sense is that a little openness about this would humanize classical artists for us, not scare away potential ticket-buyers. Enough already with the myth of classical perfection!