V.com weekend vote: How old were you when you went to your first symphony orchestra concert?

March 29, 2019, 6:06 PM · How old were you when you went to your first symphony orchestra concert? And do you remember what they played?

This week one of my students, seven-year-old Chloe, went to the symphony for the first time. She went with her mother to see the Pasadena Symphony play Mahler Symphony No. 1 (quite a hefty piece!) as well as Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21.

Laurie and Chloe
Laurie with student Chloe, who experienced her first symphony concert last Saturday with the Pasadena Symphony.

Not coincidentally, I was playing (in the second violins, that's right baby!) and had given them my comps. I always try to give them to my students when possible.

I was a little concerned about the length of Mahler symphony for this young one, but they did indeed stay for the entire two hours, and so I met them outside, after the concert.

"We LOVED it!" her mother said, "we will go to ALL of them, just let us know when they are!

Wow, music to my ears!

"What parts did you like best?" I asked Chloe.

"The loud parts!" she said happily. A lot of loud to like in Mahler 1!

I'm not sure if I remember the very first time I went to the symphony, but my earliest memory is from when I about 10 years old; I had started playing the violin just a year earlier.

That connection with the violin is probably why my parents took me to see Eugene Fodor perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Denver Symphony in the then-new Boettcher Concert Hall. I don't remember the rest of the concert, but Fodor was unforgettable. I remember thinking that Fodor made everything look so amazingly easy -- maybe it actually was that easy? I'd have to go home and figure that out. Also, I did not want the performance to end, ever. I just wanted to keep watching and listening. (Now that I think of it, Paul Stein, you were probably in the orchestra!)

What is your first memory of seeing a symphony orchestra concert? How old were you? What made you go? What do you remember about it? Was it a positive experience? And if you have not yet been to one, what would lure you there? Please participate in the vote and then tell us all about it!

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Replies

March 29, 2019 at 11:44 PM · I used to take my two boys to the Denver Symphony free concerts, when they were about 8 and 4, and then we’d go get pizza. We did that for many years and they really enjoyed the concerts as we were able to sit and watch the orchestra right up front!!

March 30, 2019 at 12:45 AM · I remember going to concerts at the Hollywood Bowl as a kid. I alway's loved the Tchaikovsky fireworks concert.

March 30, 2019 at 12:50 AM · When I was 12. I went with a friend's family; my own family was never very interested in any kind of music, but I had discovered classical radio earlier that year and wanted to hear an orchestra in person. I think it was the Houston Symphony but I'm not 100% sure of that, and I also don't remember the soloist. But I remember that the program was a bold one that included the Walton viola concerto and Howard Hanson's 1st Symphony. That was literally the first time I'd seen or heard a string instrument in person, because my family had just moved back to the US after nine years in the Middle East. As for how it affected me, let's put it this way: that concert was why, when I started learning the violin, I already intended to switch to viola at the first opportunity.

I attended one more concert that year (definitely Houston Symphony, and Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony was on the program), but after that I didn't have another chance to hear a symphony orchestra concert until 6 years later, when I was in college and playing in the concert (Nicolai overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich violin concerto, Brahms 1st Symphony).

March 30, 2019 at 01:05 AM · I was in high school, and the music director arranged for free seats for a daytime performance of the what I think was the L.A. Philharmonic. We had to get there on our own, so I car-pooled with some other students. I don't remember what was played. I only remember us sitting very high up.

March 30, 2019 at 01:09 AM · Violin teacher had extra tickets; she was concertmaster. Decided that since I'd never seen a live performance, I should. I think it was Miriam Fried playing the Sibelius concerto. Might have that wrong; maybe it wasn't Fried. Pretty sure it was the Sibelius.

March 30, 2019 at 01:42 AM · about 11 y.o., about the same time I started violin. I remember hearing concertos live, with Rugerio Ricci, Michael Rabin, Nathan Milstein,

March 30, 2019 at 02:06 AM · Very wise to make under 8 the lowest age group - I'd have had difficulty deciding what to vote, had you differentiated below that age!

March 30, 2019 at 02:31 AM · Susan Cihak

I was 10 years old and had just started violin in the school string program. My dad took me to see the opera, La Forza Del Destino at the Old Metropolitan Opera House in NYC. I spent the entire intermission down at the pit looking at all the instruments. It was 1955. It is still vivid and exciting in my memory now as it was that day.

March 30, 2019 at 03:59 AM · My elementary school offered trips to hear orchestra one year (I think NY Phil) & a Met opera matinee in alternating years. We could go from 4th grade on. I never missed, till we moved to a less culturally atuned district.

March 30, 2019 at 05:30 AM · I had the experience of playing in an orchestra before ever attending a concert. The first concert I remember as a member of the audience was the National Symphony playing an educational concert, which I attended with my 6th grade class. I was already playing in the Montgomery County Jr. Youth Orchestra that year.

March 30, 2019 at 07:37 AM · I guess you can’t vote if you went at the age of eight.

March 30, 2019 at 09:45 AM · At the age of 13, in 1955. A concert by the Frankfurt-am-Main Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by 85 years "old" Carl Schuricht, they played Bruckner's 5th !! And the concert began with Mozart Violin Concerto No.5 played by Roman Totenberg !! Schuricht approached the stage with one crutch which he handed over to the concertmaster. 2 years later Schuricht appeared in the same venue, same orchestra, with 2 crutches, same procedure, sitting down and conducting Bruckner's Ninth symphony! If I remember well, he conducted auswendig, i.e. without scores. Unforgettable. At the time I played in my school orchestra, 1st violins.

March 30, 2019 at 11:56 AM · I have picked the "Ages 9-18" option although I am not totally sure whether it was actually an earlier age.

My father took me and my siblings to symphony orchestra concerts and operas. He was not a musician himself but loved music. It was great.

The biggest symphony orchestra impression was when I started myself playing in a big amateur orchestra when I was about 16 years old. That orchestra played Tchaikovsky symphony number 5. That was a big mouthful but an incredible experience.

I started in the orchestra playing 2nd violin sitting in the back of a big 2nd violin group. Sometimes I was happy that I didn't sit in the front where I assumed the conductor could easily hear what you played, and it could happen that I wasn't too happy with the quality of my playing. There were many very difficult sections in that symphony.

Some years later I experienced sitting in the front and found out it was actually an easier position to sit closer to the conductor.

March 30, 2019 at 01:35 PM · I was right around 9, so I voted "9-18." I didn't have to go to the symphony this first time -- it came to my elementary school. The four (4) selections I remember: 1) Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf. 2) Beethoven - 2nd movement of Symphony 5. 3) Mendelssohn - Overture and some of incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream. 4) Johann Strauss Jr. - Overture to Zigeunerbaron (Gypsy Baron).

The Prokofiev was the only selection new to me at the time but easy enough to absorb. I'd already heard all the other selections at home. Now the violin muse grabbed me -- I was seeing, for the first time, how string players brought these scores to life.

March 30, 2019 at 02:06 PM · I went to my first when I was -9 months old as my mom is a conductor and she conducted while she was pregnant. After I was born, I went to a concert of hers when I was 2 months old. Of course, I don't remember any of this.

March 30, 2019 at 03:53 PM · Oh dear, I meant “8 or under,” please vote accordingly!

March 30, 2019 at 04:33 PM · In 4th grade I went on a field trip to a St. Louis Symphony concert. I came home that night and asked my parents to buy me a violin. The rest, as they say, is history.

March 30, 2019 at 04:37 PM · Fuzzy details, but around 8 yr old was taken to see the Buffalo Phil....Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody #2 did-it for me....I was hooked...have better taste now....but still enjoy the fire and wild thrills of Liszt and Enesco's Rumainan offerings.

March 30, 2019 at 09:54 PM · Laurie, I do remember the concert with Eugene Fodor and the Denver Symphony at Boettcher Hall. He was memorable for his gorgeous tone and romantic virtuosity. That doesn't surprise me that it inspired you so deeply.

My own first listening experience as a child was attending the Dallas Symphony with my violin teacher's husband when I was 9. Isaac Stern was playing Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capricioso. I remember turning to Mr. Simon halfway through the piece and asking whether the introduction was over yet. I'm grateful that my first concert included that piece. The ideal children's concertt would be,Peter and the Wolf, William Tell Overture, Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture, Rondo Capricioso, and Finale from Dvorak 8th Symphony.

March 30, 2019 at 11:03 PM · The photo of you and Chloe might just be the cutest I've ever seen! As for my first concert, my father is a conductor, so I was attending rehearsals at a very early age (probably 4) and then graduated to concerts when my mother trusted me to keep quiet (about 7).

March 30, 2019 at 11:38 PM · I'm pretty sure it was the LA Phil, and probably with my school class. I only recall being impressed by the hall: its size and upholstered seats. Pretty pitiful.

March 31, 2019 at 06:23 PM · When I was in junior high, the New Orleans Symphony would come play at one of the local high schools during the day, and we got bused over at least once, maybe twice. Another time, about 7 years later, of my own accord, I went to a similar offering that took place at night, at the same high school. When I was in university in San Francisco, one of the local venues would come through the classrooms offering free tickets to some classical performances at a specific auditorium. I did that a few times. There was another annual thing here in the Bay Area called "Midsummer Mozart" which I went to maybe twice. Have also attended a handful of performances at Davies Symphony Hall in SF. I'm not a avid attender, due to expense and hassle of getting there. I do more listening to CD's.

I will add that my early experiences were forced by the school system. They were for my "cultural development". Even when I attended on my own a few years after, the intent in my head was that I was "supposed to try to like this".

My development towards listening to classical music has been long and slow, with long gaps, and gaining a little momentum as I'm endeavored to learn piano and violin in more recent years.

I always loved me some Mozart in my adult years, when I started choosing what to listen to. Without a doubt.

March 31, 2019 at 08:48 PM · When I was a kid we went to see the Allen Park (Michigan) Symphony Orchestra because my violin teacher was the founding concertmaster. That's a community orchestra. When I was old enough (13) I was put into the back of the firsts. (Later the APSO folded but was reborn as the Southern Great Lakes Symphony which also eventually failed and merged its assets into the Michigan Philharmonic. That's how it goes with community orchestras.)

These days we go and see the Roanoke (Virginia) Symphony Orchestra's "Holiday Pops" concert every year. When my kids were old enough we'd also take them to see the RSO if there was a significant attraction like a concerto being performed on their instrument. Sometimes in that case we'd leave at intermission because a whole concert was too much for them when they were really little. I think that's an okay option for families -- leaving at intermission. Sure, you don't get everything you paid for, but do you really want your kids to dread orchestra concerts? We're also lucky that our kids tended to be quite well-behaved and we could take them to chamber recitals too at a young age, and there are a lot of great chamber recitals in Blacksburg. Our youngest was able to keep quiet but rather fidgety, but we figured out that a notebook and a few crayons was a way she could occupy herself quietly. On each new page I would write a word and she'd have to draw it. (House or Cat or Cello for example.)

April 2, 2019 at 05:48 AM · i went to my first orchestra at age 7. I was so enthralled by the folks playing the violin so much, that the next day, i asked my Mom if i can take lessons so I can learn how to play the violin. Now an adult, I'm still playing. My daughter is playing the violin too now. She started at 4.

April 2, 2019 at 05:13 PM · I think I was about 10 when I first went to a concert, which actually was'nt a symphony concert but opera. By this time I had already performed in a number of classical concerts myself (as a singer) and I remember watching the violins in a kind of envy: this beautiful instrument was what I wanted to learn (I had to wait until I was in university). To this day the concerts I performed outnumber the concerts I attended.

April 2, 2019 at 06:33 PM · I was five or six, and it was a symphony in either Baltimore or Washington. All I remember is that they played Mozart (maybe the G minor?), and some other piece that featured tympani. I was very impressed by the tympanist. Because tympani is cool. I almost became a percussionist but my mother wisely decided she didn't want drums in her house.

April 3, 2019 at 09:42 PM · I was about 7yrs old to listen to my first concert beside one of the lakes in Minneapolis. They were free to attend, they played in the evening, Summer time of course. The pop corn was nice too. My next listening perhaps two years later was in the Sydney Opera House - Australia. Can't remember what was played but thoroughly enjoyed it. I then learned to play the harmonica, keyboards, clarinet, guitar and then later in adult life the violin which I still play. So I think those early day concerts did have an impact on my music playing. Never did music professionally, became a mechanical engineer instead.

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