Clapping in between movements and coughing (concerts).
I was just wondering what your opinion was on clapping between movements and excessive coughing during concerts because i went to a concert yesterday (Janine Jansen: Sibelius Violin concerto - and yes it was amazing) and the audience seemed to all have the cold! And clapping between movements does tend to get quite frustrating sometimes. anyways what do you guys think?
I personally think clapping between movements is just fine. If there is a movement after which immediate applause would spoil the mood, the performers should take their time signaling that they are done. For coughing, it should go without saying that it's ok, especially since it can be rather involuntary.
A spontaneous burst of applause at the end of a movement is just great. Unfortunately it tends to become customary and a portion of the audience (e.g. at the BBC Proms) thinks it has to applaud after every movement, out of kindness!
It depends a lot on the piece!
I agree with Lieschen regarding clapping.
I agree that it depends on the music. Last year I attended a concert that ended with Shostakovich 8. quartet - a piece after which you don't feel like clapping at all. There was this one guy who wanted to show that he knew the piece had finished - you know the type - so he applauded loudly even before the bows were down. But no-one else in the audience joined him, so eventually he stopped again. Then the quartet took down the bows and after a while the rest of us clapped.
As a person who generally listens to music with his eyes closed, I do not appreciate the "ignoratti" who applaud between movements and break my spell. EDIT: But I will admit that there have been some performances in which anon-ultimate movement has been so spectacular that an ovation is warranted and OK.
One thing I forgot to think about that others have raised is that the coughing could be contagious, which isn't nice to have in an audience.
I agree with Lieschen and Mary Ellen about clapping. I don't think it's really a big deal, but hopefully not at the end of the second movement of the Tchaikovsky, for example.
"BUT - here I am, with a cold, I have the $100 tickets I bought a year ago to the only performance Itzhak Perlman will ever give in my lifetime or his in my small city with my regional orchestra.
I think that if you have an urge/need to cough, many will try to hold it and politely relief their discomfort in between parts/pieces. They don't mean to disturb someone's zen moment, they're human and it's the most appropriate time to do it if you have to, and perhaps why so many people seem to cough at that moment, which happens to be when it is most noticeable also. Not mentioned also, many times my urge to cough is induced by some ladies wearing perfume, scented hairspray and variety of other beauty products, which is to say the least, irritating.
"I believe that the classical music audiences should return to the way they were a couple of centuries ago, which was the way many audiences at rock, jazz, and pop concerts are now"
I went to a concert where there was someone who was SNORING during the quiet parts, and to another concert where someone seated at the third row was conducting through Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. Not fun at all...
Since clapping is intended to convey appreciation for the music I see no problem with that. I have never been in a situation where the clapping was annoying.
Timothy, I think we need to be more patient with kids. I have heard others express similar sentiments about kids in other public places such as restaurants, airplanes, parties, and religious services. How else are they supposed to learn how to behave at a concert if we don't have the expectations and the practice opportunities for them in concerts, or in general public discourse?
Snoring just makes no sense. Why come if you can't stay awake?
I think kids can learn to behave at a concert without having that learning experience take place at a formal 8 PM concert with expensive tickets. There are concerts designed for families that make a better first introduction. Don't bring your kid to a Bruckner concert that starts at 8 PM on a Saturday night unless you already know for a fact that your child can sit still for that long without disturbing those around you, and will get something out of it.
My solution for bringing my kid to a concert was always to bring a bag of books (and, when he was very small, cheerios, which I would dole out one by one every time he looked like he was about to make a peep). I rationalized the rudeness of reading with the theory that at least he wasn't disrupting others' enjoyment and was staying quiet (and the music was still seeping into his brain). Still, it was stressful
I have had kids of my own and they both have kids, so I have been exposed to those kinds of situations.
Not clapping between movements is at most a dubious tradition. If they are so moved they want to clap, they should be able to clap. When I had a recital I specifically did NOT mention not to clap between movements and my partner agreed we would just let them clap if they wanted to. As for coughing, it’s not healthy to hold in coughs so while it may be distracting, no one should get the stink eye unless they’re deliberately trying to sabotage the concert.
Earlier this year I played a recital in a very pleasant, intimate space (seating around 100 people) designed for chamber music. The daytime concert was heavy on retirees, unsurprisingly, and right down the center aisle, no more than a handful of feet from me, was placed a gentleman in a wheelchair.
If someone's coughs are distracting in the middle of a concert, they absolutely should get the stink eye unless they are doing the proper thing and very quietly getting up and exiting the hall.
People have lung disease, such as interstitial lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or lung cancer couldn’t stop coughing when it occurs, but they can’t tell what time the cough will come up during each day. They could be living for many years with such symptom but can also be during their final days without knowing that. It's annoying to hear coughing during the concert, but it could be the last concert for this person. I am saying this because I happen to know a few such people in my life.
I don't like coughs, claps or any other not wanted noise. That simple my opinion is. And I'm not a stubborn elder, I'm 22.
Yixi, that's a good point about people with lung disease. I have a story, and I still don't know how I feel about this.
Also, there was someone who was leaving the performance durning a piece and all you could hear was the *THONK* *THONK* *THONK* of their shoes. AND someones phone went off during the encore! It was quite disappointing really.
Mary Ellen something like that happened to me once. I was giving a chemistry exam and right in the middle, a student had a terrible seizure and had to be taken by ambulance. The amazing part of the story is that a few of my students in the exam room (out of about 400) were campus volunteer rescue members themselves and knew exactly what to do to comfort and stabilize the stricken individual and ready him for transport. Honestly, I was frozen. You don't get that kind of training during faculty orientation. Fortunately the young man was okay.
Mary Ellen, how heartbreaking.
Mary Ellen, I witness the similar situation minutes before a concert started a few years ago. Victoria is known for a place for retirees and classical music concert goers are mostly white-haired, many on walkers and in wheelchairs. It's heartwarming to see frail people are still so full of passion for music and would go extra miles to attend evening concerts, rain or shine. When I grow old, I want to be like them and count each concert I made to as a triumphant. I admit that sometimes I got annoyed and would turn my head and look at them when I heard repeated noise of candy wraps or snores or the occasional coughs. But I always felt terrible about it afterwards because I don't know what special effort they had to make to make a trip a concert and how much the concert meant to them. It maybe because I'm still grieving the loss of my late husband, but if it were up to me, I'd not discourage an old or sick person from attending a concert that he/she wants to go.
Oh yes May Ellen, a similar thing happened at a concert i went to last year; it was Anne Sophie Mutter, Dvorak Violin concerto and someone had a heart attack during the last movement but she was okay though. i guess anne sophie was just too good.
That and maybe age has something to do with it.
I used to have a rigid view on clapping between movements of a classical piece, but I am fine with it now. Holding your emotion for 35 minutes of Beethoven's 5th is too much of a burden for many of us.
Yixi, I am terribly sorry for your loss.
Two days ago I heard Jordi Savall and his musicians at the Wigmore Hall in London. The hall now has a visual 'idiot presentation' which asks you to turn your phone off etc. etc. and at the end asks the audience to refrain from coughing during the performance. Immediately after the word 'coughing' appeared, there were coughs from all round the hall - perhaps auto suggestion is quite strong on that word?
Thank you Mary Ellen. I agree with you. I wouldn't want it either if I were in such situation.
Kan Pai, that certainly depends on where you live. Chain bookstores, including B&N, can have very well-stocked book sections on classical music if there's local demand for those books.
Yes, people have to cough sometimes. What bothers me is the number of people who make no effort to muffle it, or hold it until the brass are blasting away. It's almost as if these people wait for a particularly quiet passage, then do their best to cough as loudly as possible. It's downright rude.
I live in Sydney where I go to concerts in the Sydney Opera House twice a year. What I always notice is the seniority of the audience. Around 80% of them are old and with white hair.
What bothers me most in a concert is to see the hall half empty.
@Carlos, in general I would have the same opinion.
Will, I don't think we would have to worry about turning most people off. In the more popular genres, concerts are louder than us classical nerds could ever imagine.
Will, precisely my point is that -with some exception as the cougher or the sleepy child-, I think that people actually overbehave. I see them sitting tight in the chair clutching the armrests like if they are in a rollercoaster.
I personally do not like when people clap between movements. I think clapping at the end of a piece, not movement, is what people should do. It makes sense to me to applaud at the end of a piece and not between movements. If the piece isn't over, I don't see why there should be clapping, even if it was an amazingly performed movement.
Some classical musicians in my city are trying very hard to change some of those etiquette by bringing classical music outside the concert all. A few years ago I went to a chamber music concert at a local pub. A few musicians from our professional symphony orchestra have been bringing played Brahms, Shostakovich, Schubert, etc., and Bach solo during intermission! Tickets by donation. Most importantly, they encouraged audience to dance, drink, eat and even talk to each other when they were playing. It was a lot of fun and the house was full. I don't know if they are still doing this between seasons. I sure hope so.
@Carlos Let me explain myself a bit more clearly.
She was being a total primadonna. If you are that famous, you should be a resilient enough performer to put up with coughing of all things. If I were her, I would have completely ignored it, or figured out how to cope better for next time, I have played through worse. No excuse for her behavior.
Everybody would agree that the performers that are able to keep on playing regardless of the surprising difficulties (broken string, malfunctioning heating or lighting, rowdy public, even earthquakes!) are awesome.
Carlos, your remark on snobism a few posts up is spot on. I love listening to classical music and performing it (amateur choir). But I don't like attending classical orchestral concerts because of the atmosphere surrounding them. Usually, no one on stage will speak to the audience about what they are performing, to place the music in a context. Apparently I'm supposed to know all that in advance and have looked up the translation of the lyrics (in case of a vocal performance) beforehand.
@Carlos, your reference to a 12 year-old kid makes me think.
Also, about the clapping between movements, no offense to anyone but I find it difficult to understand why some of you are object to that. After all it comes from good will and appreciation.
Will, I don't think most people against clapping between movements even know why they are against it, and probably just want to go along with the tradition they were raised with. They probably just saw enough people they subconsciously deemed in positions of authority to model the correct social order, and parroted their behavior at concerts without thinking.
There are some movements that it's virtually impossible to refrain from clapping afterwards. It doesn't bother me.
Clapping after each aria in Vivaldi's Gloria or in a Bach Passion is both justifiable enthusiasm and gross insensitivity. Even the conductor's raised hands cannot stop it.
Mary Ellen and Adrian, a recent performance of Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is a good example of what you just said. After the first movement, Timmy Chooi got not only clapping but an standing ovation! The conductor told the audience "Now the on call will be the second and third movements". That was a great concert.
@Adrian, I don't think someone would be considered a snob just because she dislikes the clapping ;-)
My preference is no clapping, as it isn't part of the performance, and it can kind of stain a really nice moment. On the other hand, I like that people feel like strongly expressing their enthusiasm. Unfortunately, sometimes it is more about unthinking social convention, but I think it makes more sense to take the good with the unfortunate and realize that it really has no bearing on the quality of the performance you just witnessed, so no reason to stress about it. Coughers can go to hell, though!
@Christian: "Coughers can go to hell, though!". Maybe you're just being humorous, but that reminds me of how harsh Kyung Wha Chung got criticised, just for shutting up a coughing child that ruined her concentration in one of her most important performances (I posted link above).
Ironically, my community orchestra has taken to telling audiences before the concert that clapping between movements is okay if they feel moved to do that... and it's been the single most effective way to stop people from clapping between movements. :-)
@Lydia The audience would never clap if they knew the orchestra didn't want it.
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The coughing thing is much trickier than the clapping thing, in my mind. Both in hearing others cough and my own personal terror that a tickle throat attack was oncoming. Fortunately cough drops keep the worst of it at bay. And as I already commented on the clapping business at Laurie's aforementioned V.com weekend vote, I'll refrain from repetition. Mary Ellen, yikes, what a thought-provoking but tragic story you shared.
As long during the performance the person(s) next to me are not:
Imagine a chamber music concert, where the audience is almost completely silent and listening, where even a few coughs or shuffles don't really bother the others because they're engaged in the music. The movement ends, with a feeling of anticipation of what's to follow. There'd be no applause because everyone would understand that it isn't the time for it. And if musicians were to completely respect that, they would also minimize the pause, re-tuning, arranging music on the stands, etc., which some do, and I would also hope most would, for at least those cases where the pause is clearly just a moment, such as when the next note actually completes the phrase while also starting a new one.