V.com weekend vote: Should a soloist always give an encore, if the audience shows it wants one?

March 31, 2018, 11:38 AM · "Bravo, bravo! More, more!"

When the audience has collectively risen to its feet in praise of a soloist, applauding enthusiastically and shouting for more -- should that soloist always be expected to provide an encore?

Encore violinist

I've attended and played in concerts in which the soloist was exceptionally generous, playing two or three encore pieces even after performing an arduous work.

However, in the concerts I've attended over the last year, only about 50 percent of the soloists gave encores, even after multiple curtain calls, standing ovations, etc. In one case, it was a performance of the Bernstein Serenade, which certainly is a long and intense work that stands on its own - yet the audience wanted more. Another was a pianist who played a standard, albeit quite difficult work -- no encore.

Granted, soloists aren't paid anything extra to play an encore, and after giving 100 percent to play a difficult and virtuosic work, it might seem like too much. Yet, it's been a long-held tradition.

What are your thoughts on the matter -- should a soloist always give an encore if an audience clearly wants it? Are fewer artists giving encores these days? Do audiences really want encores? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts.

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Replies

March 31, 2018 at 06:46 PM · Option 4: until he gets it right.

March 31, 2018 at 07:00 PM · I'd leave it up to the soloist. If (s)he can, do it. If not, then I don't know what to do. Just not do it?

March 31, 2018 at 07:12 PM · My experience is that pianists are usually only too ready to play encores - sometimes more than one - but other soloists, including violinists, not so much.

Last year we had a solo cellist playing the Saint-Saens concerto No. 1 with us, and she very politely refused the blandishments of the audience to play an encore.

One notable concert I was at many years ago was Paul Tortelier at Bristol's Colston Hall performing the Dvorak cello concerto. After the performance he returned to the auditorium for a second time, carrying his cello, sat down and tuned the two lower strings down a semitone. I then knew exactly what he was going to play, and I was right - the spectacular last movement of Kodaly's Sonata Op 8 for solo cello.

March 31, 2018 at 07:58 PM · With the "GREATS" was always expected......with Kreisler the stage crew move a piano on to the stage....and....the night was young.. Then.... Conductors came into the "SCENE"..the competition began. Ormandy"allowed" Rostrpovich...sometimes..

....

March 31, 2018 at 08:37 PM · Particularly in a solo recital, when the soloist is the final sound of the performance, it might be a matter of what they wish to leave in the ears of the audience. I attended a remarkable recital of solo Bach, and the violinist chose not to give an encore, even after repeated ovations. To me, it was the right decision. After that performance, nothing else was needed, or would have been appropriate. What we heard was very much enough.

March 31, 2018 at 09:32 PM · The other day I attended a performance of Beethoven’s opus132, for those people Horne not familiar it, it is a work of great spiritual significance. The performance was very good, good

enough to affect my spiritual balance, I required, and I would have thought that others would have also required a little time to recover. In the event, the quartet returned to the platform, all smiles, seemingly this great work meant nothing, the audience stamped their feet with great vigour,as a Yorkshireman I thought “owt for nowt, tha top an bottom on if”

The quartet retreated three times, the audience responding with more and more footbanging,

More applause, more bravos....until the second violin put up his hands, the footbanging clapping,cheering ceased, the second violin told the audience tha he was a “Scot” and therefore they would play us a Scottish jig! The audience applauded, they played, the audience applauded, we went home, we had had summat got nowt. BUT opus132??

March 31, 2018 at 10:40 PM · I am a retired violinist from the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and in 1978 Lazar Berman gave a concert in wich he played the Tchaikovsky piano concerto in the first half,Prokofiev 2 piano concerto in the second half and after 15 minutes of applause he played Mussorgsky The Great Port of Kiev!!!

March 31, 2018 at 11:02 PM · The answer's simple: If I'm in the audience and I want an encore, option 2, but not barring exceptional circumstances. If I'm not in the audience (and I'm not going to be able to get hold of a recording of the encore), definitely option 5: Who cares? (or words to that effect)

April 1, 2018 at 12:04 AM · I wonder sometimes: to what extent do audiences feel obligated to call for an encore? I've never seen an audience for a ICSOM orchestra NOT call for an encore by the soloist.

April 1, 2018 at 07:53 AM · It may be nice (depending on circumstances), and it can help build goodwill among fans toward the soloist. But under no circumstances should a soloist be OBLIGATED to perform an encore piece. I feel it should be appreciated, but not expected.

April 1, 2018 at 11:22 AM · Actually, I've begun to wish that soloists wouldn't do encores... or orchestras either. I'd really like to be left with the piece resounding in my mind! Instead, I get and additional, and unnecessary, encore that's not introduced so I'm left wondering what it was.

April 1, 2018 at 11:33 AM · Soloist do like it, because with the applause he has the response of the audience, which gives energy. Kinda "Ah, you like what I do! :) Well, then it's even more fun. Let's do a small thing extra." But he is always free to take into account how he feels. He may feel empty or tired. He has already given so much.

Rubinstein once announced an encore, and said something like "but first I want to play the Chopin Waltz again, because I was unhappy with my own performance." :)

April 1, 2018 at 04:36 PM · Soloists have no obligation for giving encore. Of course audiance always want to hear more after a good performance, but a soloist is like a painter who has just finished something he/she has worked hard for the show. You wouldn't ask a painter to "paint that picture again" after you enjoyed looking at it. It's only sensible to leave it entirely to the soloist to choose whether an encore is desirable.

April 2, 2018 at 12:34 AM · Back when Maxim Vengerov was playing a fiddle from the Bein & Fushi organization and the owner lived in Buffalo, Max did a recital and then asked the audience to make requests for his encores.....while the pianist did not join in Maxim played at least 14 solos from memory as requested by audience members...we were all startled at his recall and brilliant technique..

April 2, 2018 at 11:44 AM · Years ago when I lived in Cleveland, the Plain Dealer newspaper had a nationally recognized music critic, Robert Finn, who was very opinionated and frequently expressed his opinions in print. One of his opinions was that an audience paid to hear a set program and were entitled to nothing beyond that and to expect any encore was practically a crime. Another of his well known opinions was that if a performance did not live up to his exacting standards the audience must not applaud. One evening I was in the beautiful auditorium of the art museum for a piano quartet performance. The auditorium was only about a third full and I was the only person in my row and the row in front of me was empty, until a man in a suit and sporting a bow tie came in and sat directly in front of me. I recognized him from his photos in the Plain Dealer, the famous Mr. Finn. The first work was a string trio, not a bad performance but lacking true cohesiveness and drive, as musicians sometimes play before they have really warmed up. After the piece I thought, here I am at a concert that was free, the playing wasn’t great but not terrible either, so I applauded. Rather than applauded, Mr. Finn turned around and glared at me contemptously, at me, the only person around, with his icy cold stare, if looks could kill I wouldn’t be writing this. I got the point. Interestingly, when the pianist joined the group for the next piece, she provided the missing drive that propelled all four musicians to a great performance.

April 3, 2018 at 06:56 PM · What a strange attitude this Mr. Finn has. There's no reason why applause can't be tepid for a mediocre performance, full-bodied for a good performance, or raise the roof for an exceptional one. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, nor would this be fair. I'd hate to have our community orchestra play a piece and be faced by stony silence because we didn't meet the standard of, say, the Berlin Philharmonic.

Getting back to the subject of encores, after a particularly fiery performance a mellow encore can bring you back down and send you home satisfied rather than exhausted. If the audience wants more, why not give it to them? It makes the performance more complete.

April 4, 2018 at 07:17 PM · My thoughts exactly, Charlie, I agree with you completely. I enjoyed reading Mr. Finns editorial critiques in the Plain Dealer and cringed at his dark side as he lambasted audiences and musicians alike. As a colleague wrote after his death, “Bob maintained the most serene of temperaments, even though he could become a charming curmudgeon”. I honestly didn’t find him at all charming in the encounter I describe.

April 6, 2018 at 06:25 PM · @Enrique, and it's a question that some of us asked, whether Lazar Berman burned himself out.

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