Applause between movements.

September 28, 2008 at 05:05 AM · I went to a wonderful concert tonight by the Merling Trio. The second half of the program was Dvorak's Dumky Trio, which was played exquisitely. The group did such a phenomenal job of painting moods and scenes that it left me literally breathless in places, stunned almost.

Then, the most jarring thing. Between movements, the audience clapped. Now this audience was fairly large for this area (150-200ish) but fairly unsophisticated musically. Thus, I wasn't surprised when they clapped between movements of Haydn, Piazzola, etc. Normally I don't think much of it, however, the applause in the Dvorak seemed almost sacriligeous, due to the mood the musicians had painted and the way that was broken. It was terrible...I found myself shaking my head and covering my ears, especially between the 3rd and 4th movements. I was feeling almost robbed.

I've often wondered why we musicians don't do a bit of educating in the process, explaining in advance that a work is a whole, a unit, and that we don't break that unit up with applause. Would it be so terrible to explain and ask that in advance? More aware concert-goers would probably be grateful, and less experienced ones might appreciate knowing 'the rules' so they don't feel embarrassed for applauding inappropriately. Why don't we do this?

Replies (100)

September 28, 2008 at 02:22 PM · I do it. Example: I played 2 movements of Franck Sonata for a beginners camp in August (most kids elementary school, as well as some adults that were uninformed musically) here in town. There were several others playing--but of them I was the only one who did a brief intro blurb to what I was about to play. Why was this?

Why don't more do it?

The lesser reasoning being many people just want to focus on the notes, and "let the music speak for itself"-they are being paid to play not talk. The obvious danger with this line of thought is that "letting the music speak for itself" only works if your audience KNOWS how to listen--a skill rather rare nowadays.

In my opine it is because talking to an unknown audience can downright dangerous. If in advance you know what age group you are playing for you can make your comments meaningful and draw the audience in to the style/form/music/history etc etc---if you don't know your audiene for whatever reason, and miss your mark (when you miss a bit you tend to completely miss) you often leave your audience more confused than when you started.

When I'm playing for a certain "group or type" of people it is easy to make a preconcert/work talk understandable, be it chamber music or solo or otherwise. One has to tell them a bit about the piece, why they should listen to it, what is interesting about it, and guide their listening a bit---how one approaches all of this depends on the audience age/musical experience. When one has to deal with a mixed or unknown audience where there are some academics in the crowd, a very few ringers, some kids, some music students in the crowd potentially, as well as a great many people who are severely ignorant of music (Basic traditions, forms, history etc)---it is near impossible to make comments draw a majority of the audience in----as most words one uses go right over the last groups' heads.. It is safer to not open ones mouth-than to risk confusing the beeejeebus out of the house potentially. Also, it is more risky in concert-hall environs where you can't tell anything out of your audience-compared to more informal less antiseptic settings.

It can be done, but the performer has to tread very carefully in terms of the language they use--as most day-to-day verbage musicians use is Greek to your uninformed concert goer. I didn't learn the art of giving preconcert spiels until graduate school-no one mentioned the subject in undergrad, FWIW.

September 28, 2008 at 01:55 PM · I think musicians don't give that kind of useful instructions because they seem to have an idealized view of the auditors. That becomes evident also if you hear musicians talk about music. They always start their explanations with something like "For sure, everybody of you recognized that quotation from Mozart's symphony in g minor". They use a considerable part of these talks telling you that all of you know this and have heard that. They fail to see that most people spend most of their free time in watching tv (and that's why so many of them don't understand why it's a bad habit to cough or even talk during a performance).

By the way, in January, I saw Hilary Hahn performing Tchaikovsky's violin concerto in Baden-Baden (Germany). The first movement is very difficult and has a furious end (as you all know ...). When that first movement was over, there was an extreme tension in the concert hall. Everybody had to calm down, and even Hilary Hahn gave clear signs of relief (I was sitting in first row and could hear her exhale). The audience was well educated, and they saved their applause, but I can tell you it was hard work to overcome this natural reaction.

September 28, 2008 at 04:51 PM · From an interview with the great pianist, Artur Rubinstein:

Interviewer: "What do you think about applause between movements?"

Rubinstein: "Well....you're not supposed to do that......But I love it!"

September 28, 2008 at 05:13 PM · I agree that this is not the kind of thing you can address at the moment it is happening. And yes, ideally, if you can educate your audience beforehand (without being condescending), that's great. And, yes, you'd better know your audience before you start saying anything to them.

But, on the other hand, who IS your audience? Is it the people sitting there right in front of you, listening to you play? Or is it the musical purists (performers, critics, educators), furious that a religious rite has been violated by applause between movements? Or is it the ghost of the long-dead composer, angry that some people would have the audacity to actually interrupt the product of their genius?

Frankly, I like Rubenstein's sentiment. And in addition, if the movements of a concerto are interrupted because the audience is spontaneously throwing applause at you, just be happy that they're not spontaneously throwing applesauce.

Sandy

September 28, 2008 at 09:03 PM ·

September 28, 2008 at 05:35 PM · Hi, Dottie: Yeah, I understand. Maybe the issue here isn't so much the ideals we have of a performance and making sure we don't somehow promote what is essentially the disruption of a carefully designed shift in mood. Maybe the problem here is recognizing that that in the real world we as performers in fact do not always have any real control over at least one aspect of that - audience reaction and behavior.

Sandy

September 28, 2008 at 09:05 PM ·

September 28, 2008 at 05:50 PM · "and that's why so many of them don't understand why it's a bad habit to cough or even talk during a performance"

I gather from this statement that people who have colds should not attend concerts. Ok.

Threads like these are what make classical music such a bore for the general public. Going to concerts and you're not allowed to clap, or move, or even cough. Wow, sign me up for the fun!

My suggestion is get over it. I'm on stage a lot. When people clap I smile and I'm grateful. Musicians should not get onstage and tell their audience not to clap between movements because it's pretentious and condescending. The snobbery of the whole scene is off putting to a very high percentage of people and the number is rising. The people who insist on this holier than thou sense of vegetation during concerts are not the type of concert goers I want to attract to any of my performances. They are not the future of classical music... I'm looking forward to making way to a new audience that will not be of a certain tax bracket, age, and social class. Who made up these rules anyway? In Beethoven's time they would perform the first movement of a symphony, then they'd perform a pop song of the day, then the 3rd movt, then maybe a piano sonata, and then the last movements. I can't argue that a piece of music has a structural integrity but must that mean that I have to sit still like a cabbage and never dare to sneeze?

Unbelievable! Instead of being thankful for having so many people at the concert that are not familiar with classical music we are here complaining that they cough.

September 28, 2008 at 09:06 PM ·

September 28, 2008 at 06:11 PM · Marina,

off the mark. If you've ever been to a jazz concert, you may have noticed that coughing and talking are not welcomed. It's simple respect for the performers and has got nothing to do with the alleged snobbery of classical music. And I agree whole-heartedly that people with colds should refrain from going to public events be it a reading, a concert or what have you. As a performer I find extraneous noise from the audience astonishingly annoying. You have to be able hear a pin drop.

That said I think clapping between movements is wonderful, Tchaikovsky being the case in point. It also gives a performer some time to breathe. What distinguishes a learned audience however is that silence after the last note has been played. Nobody moving, just taking in that silence. Now that's magic.

September 28, 2008 at 08:41 PM · I wuz defending Marina, but she did better herself.

September 28, 2008 at 07:57 PM · Ilya,

I'm not off the mark, I just happen to disagree passionately on this. I do not think classical music concerts should be quiet enough for a pin to drop - that will happen of its own accord and only if the performance is moving enough. It's a given that people shouldn't talk at concerts or be disruptive in a disrespectful way. I was once performing a concert and a woman started dancing ballet in the aisles - very disruptive and I couldn't keep from laughing. In a jazz club I have coughed before (don't stone me) and maybe I didn't talk, but at least I got to sit back, sip my drink, and clap in the middle of the set. It's a release and a response to the music. No such leeway with classical.

There is room enough in this world for all kinds of experiences. I am personally flattered if someone claps between movements. I will not scowl at someone if they cough while I play. And I've spent enough time in a practice room to be able to concentrate while there is a prokofiev piano sonata on my left and a trumpet concerto on my right. My focus cannot depend on things I cannot control. If someone was a huge fan of yours and bought tickets a year in advance to see you perform, would you rather they stay home if they have a sore throat to avoid coughing?

The audience plays a role in making magic at a concert. It's as much about them as it is about us. Stun them into silence with the performance, please their ear, give them an experience. But more often than not these days most newcomers to music are placed under severe limitations and an expectation of reverence. Why would they revere it if they don't know anything about it?

I wish it was easy to have expectations from an audience. It would be great if everyone came prepared, score in hand, with a deep and profound understanding of what we the performers are about to undertake. But there are very few people who can be listeners in this way.

Here in NY you can expect 40% of the people to have a genuine interest in the concert, 20% going along to appease their friend or spouse, another 30% who believe attending concerts puts them into an elite circle of people and are there to network, and 10% who know nothing but are curious. About 90% of the attendants will know the "rules and procedures" of clapping, not talking, etc., and the rest will either catch on or do their own thing. I am much more perturbed at an audience member falling asleep or being there for the wrong reasons than I am at the ones who sneeze or move.

September 28, 2008 at 08:39 PM · Marina,

I love you !

You are 100% correct !

I'd give you everything I own,but I've already

given it to my kids.

You stand uncorrected in my mind.

I am "your cheerleader" !

I am ROTFL w/your honest appraisal of a situation

which even one of the better players aka Ilia [or is that a bone] cannot understand.

Nice work !!!!!!

September 28, 2008 at 09:21 PM · Marina,

If someone was a huge fan of yours and bought tickets a year in advance to see you perform, would you rather they stay home if they have a sore throat to avoid coughing?

Actually, my experience is that "huge fans" don't cough even if they showed up plagued by flu (for the same reason one never sneezes on stage) - their concentration on what's happening on stage is too high. And I've been there - it's not that hard to suppress a cough (unless you are a tubercular in which case you really shouldn't be in a concert hall:), the coughs always come from people who don't care no matter how (much) you "stun" them.

September 28, 2008 at 09:47 PM · May one break wind on stage?

September 28, 2008 at 10:02 PM · Ilya,

The halls of music are similiar to everyday life.

Humans do not reside in a perfect world.

Do not expect them to do so in a concert hall

or musical house.

People will cough,sneeze,laugh,die,cry in a moments notice---uncontrollable reactions,its

just a part of being human.

People have died at The Met !

People cough,have colds,are ill [physically % mentally] YET,they are present to see you perform !

Don't expect them to not react,even uncontrollably react to your offering on a plate.

Would you rather they just sit there and be blobs---showing NO emotion at all ???

Would you be insulted to hear a sneeze or cough ??????

Get over it !!!!

September 28, 2008 at 09:41 PM · Ilya, I am (mostly) a jazz musician.

The majority of jazz concerts are in club and pub situations where polite talking is accepted as part of the environment, and where people will whoop and exclaim at a decent phrase, as well as clapping the end of each solo, and certainly applauding at the end of each tune.

Putting jazz into a concert hall imposes a different set of expectations, and induces that silence that is really anathema to jazz.

I believe it is anathema to classical music as well. Music is much too serious to be po-faced about. It includes all aspects of our humanity.

Some of us tend to forget that we are doing it for the audience, rather than the audience being there for our benefit. If they want to applaud between movements, it really should be something to be happy about. They are letting us know they appreciate what we are doing. OK, during the performance it might be distracting, but between movements... no. In any case many movements are self-contained, and do not flow one into another. Some are even cut and pasted in from previous workings. I find inter-movement silence embarrassing, like an uncomfortable pause in a conversation with someone you don't really know.

On top of this, such a "no clapping between movements" rule s a relatively recent development. Applause at the end of a movement and even demands for an encore of a movement were not unheard of during some composers' lives.

gc

September 28, 2008 at 10:49 PM · Bravo, Graham!

September 28, 2008 at 10:32 PM · I'm really shocked at some of the things you are saying Ilya. It's hard to imagine that people cough at a concert because they don't care.

September 28, 2008 at 11:22 PM · It's hard to imagine that people cough at a concert because they don't care.

It may just be that he has not experienced a bout of bronchitis, asthma, or allergies. I've almost smothered myself a few times during concerts, suppressing a cough. And the more you try to suppress the cough, the worse the urge becomes. Awful! Almost as bad as the urge to murder the old lady in the row in front of you who is s-l-o-w-l-y unsheathing her cellophane-wrapped cough drop. In the old days, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia offered huge urns of wax-paper-wrapped cough drops outside each entrance to the hall.

Marina, I really like your arguments.

September 28, 2008 at 11:34 PM · Good points -- on both sides of the matter.

Regarding the Dumky Trio example -- I agree that interrupting the music by applauding between movements can, indeed, dull the musical and dramatic impact.

Although my teachers taught me early not to applaud between movements, I don't find the practice as detrimental in instrumental music as in opera. One book I read some years back (I don't remember the author's name) stated that a long evening in the theater -- with the audience getting restless, bored, anxious to leave -- is often traceable to the common practice of applauding individual arias, duets, and ensemble numbers. This breaks the dramatic flow. There's less surge and build.

When I lived near Chicago, I saw several Lyric Opera productions. The programs plainly stated: THE AUDIENCE IS RESPECTFULLY, BUT URGENTLY, REQUESTED NOT TO INTERRUPT THE MUSIC WITH APPLAUSE -- although I wonder how many patrons bothered to read this. I also sat in on rehearsals for Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) and Wagner's Siegfried. Just before rehearsals began, a fellow walked out on stage, welcomed us, and announced:

"During the rehearsal, you may notice that the artists will sometimes sing full voice, sometimes half voice, and sometimes not at all -- according to their option. We ask that you all please refrain from applause, laughter, or talk -- anything that might make the artists unduly conscious of your presence" -- a request clearly spelled out in the instructions mailed with the rehearsal passes.

Of course, with Siegfried, there's no way to stop the show in mid-act anyway -- even in performance. Each act is a continuous tissue of musical drama.

Ballo, on the other hand, as those who have studied the score will know, has plenty of show-stoppers. Still, I found the drama more gripping, more convincing, in rehearsal than in performance -- without all the stopping and starting. A strong example of this was Amelia's Act II opening scene and aria, followed immediately -- no break for applause -- by her post-midnight rendezvous with Riccardo.

September 29, 2008 at 02:18 AM · marina and e smith are exactly right, that you simply cannot suppress a true cough. it is an INVOLUNTARY reflex to clear the airway so you can take your next breath! is drowning in your own secretion too messy a picture for everyone here? :)

now, what if you simply want to clear your throat, more like a laryngeal instead of a pulmonary function, because it is a habit or feeling a little dry or itchy? that may be voluntary, that is, if you really want to clear your throat to your heart's content while ilya plays pianissimo, i think you can/should wait and walk to the hallway or the restroom to explode. if you can hold a loud fart, you can take care of the other end. really have to get to know your sphincters people.

now, if you have flu like symptoms and sneeze quite frequently in the coming months, aside from the acoustical challenges, do you really think it is a great idea to sit in a hall full of people to accelerate viral duplication?

clap, clap,,,conflicts resolved:)

September 29, 2008 at 01:35 AM · The concert hall isn't the anathema of all jazz. It depends on the music and the occasion. Likewise the anathema of classical isn't a reception with people mulling around to classical music, or even people doing the Vienna three-step or shooting off fireworks during.

Ilya obviously just prefers an attentive audience for what he himself is doing. That's not uncommon. He granted you applause between movements.

I had to look up "po-faced." If first appeared in print in a 1934 book titled "Music Ho!". Can you riff on that title, Graham?

...

September 29, 2008 at 02:59 AM · Actually, I've often wondered why musicians are so uptight. Number one, there's a difference between genuinely rude behavior and expressing appreciation and enthusiasm for what you just heard. Number two, the untrained concertgoer doesn't know what the hell a movement is, so you might find yourself into a lengthy discourse before your advice actually makes sense to him or her. Add the fact that some movements proceed without pause! Can you imagine how confusing that must be?

If there is a particular spot where you think applause would be really out of place, try cuing the audience with your body language instead (i.e., not letting the bow down).

September 29, 2008 at 03:15 AM · Ilya, you've never noticed any intellectual snobbery in modern jazz? Because frankly, it has sort of become America's classical music. It grew more and more complex and is now studied in reputable institutions and conservatories. People don't know much about it but nevertheless identify it with a certain level of sophistication.

September 29, 2008 at 05:57 AM · I don't think it's that big a deal. I'm on stage a lot more often than I'm in the audience, and it's nice to know the audience is enjoying the performance. Normally people applaud only at big rousing endings; so the first movement of the Tchaikovsky concerto is liable to get applause, but the first movement of the Barber not so much. Usually people are sufficiently tuned in to the mood that they can tell when clapping would break the spell. USUALLY.

And then there's the opposite problem:

You know what's awkward? When your orchestra goes to a church to play a neighborhood concert, and your conductor lectures the audience before starting the piece, tells them not to applaud between movements, and that it will be OK to applaud when he stops and turns around to face them.

That's awkward. It's also awkward when you get to the end of the symphony and he's forgotten that he instructed them not to clap until he turns around... so it takes a little while, and then they

It's also awkward when your orchestra goes back to that same church the following season and the pastor, speaking before the concert, makes a point of saying "Now I know we're just a bunch of country bumpkins here at [whatever church], so I'd better tell you in case you don't remember from last year: DON'T CLAP UNTIL THE CONDUCTOR TURNS AROUND!" ...and they don't. All evening long. Not even for the Broadway Medleys and Hungarian Dances.

Awkward. Yes, indeedy.

September 29, 2008 at 08:31 AM · "People have died at The Met !"

Actually I am perfectly fine with people in the audience dying as long as they proceed quietly and respectfully.

Some interesting things being said. I agree that more is allowed during a jazz concert, especially at a club. However, the volume level is much higher and a little coughing won't be noticed.

Jim said it well - it's desirable that attention be paid to what's happening on stage. To me people dozing off in the first row (happens regularly and I am willing to blame it not exclusively on my playing) or coughing their hearts out in the pivotal moments of the piece are rude. Consider that uptight if you will.

September 29, 2008 at 08:29 AM · Oh, and to sum it up, what appears to be the quote of this thread:

"(You) really have to get to know your sphincters people"

September 29, 2008 at 10:13 AM · >>>"People have died at The Met !"

Actually I am perfectly fine with people in the audience dying as long as they proceed quietly and respectfully.

Some interesting things being said. I agree that more is allowed during a jazz concert, especially at a club. However, the volume level is much higher and a little coughing won't be noticed.<<<

I did a lovely gig at Bedford jazz club once with a singer, a guitarist and a bass player. No drums.

People were so silent, and so wanting to be silent that they waited until between tunes to open their crisp packets.

That was also the only gig I have done where a member of the audience had a heart attack while we were playing. I'm glad to say they didn't die.

>>>"(You) really have to get to know your sphincters people"<<

hahahahhah!

gc

September 29, 2008 at 07:28 PM · i take it that ilya does not play as a memeber of an orchestra anymore but solo with one or solo with a piano or simply solo?

his experience on stage may be slightly, if not greatly, different from some other musicians who routinely play as part of an orchestra. haha, bet you some are raising hands protesting elitist inclination:) but i am not!

i am totally speculating here: as a commander in chief on the stage (not referring to the conductor here), the soloist has probably developed a routine or reached a trance like stage to allow his music to come out like magic. it can be an all or none phenom as an artist really cannot compromise on concentration and settle with a 85% performance. any noise MAY interrupt that set-up and i can imagine it can be exceedingly frustrating or annoying. or even startling. i can understand the following reasoning: if i have prepared to give it all, is sitting on your fat buttocks and keeping the noise down too much to ask? forget about respect, forget about courtesy, how about some common sense? the ticket comes with responsibility, not much but some. want to enjoy yourself in a classical music concert? well, that is why you did not buy a ticket to a concert of a different nature where audience vocal participation is encouraged.

may be on the first page of the program, there should be a line that reads,,,,hey bozos, this is a classical music concert,,,don't be yourself.

(comparing with country clubs that do not take female members, i think that is quite reasonable:)

September 29, 2008 at 01:57 PM · I don't mean to imply anything by noting this; Classical Music may be the only dying business that demands their terms from paying customers. I am not saying it should or shouldn't.

September 29, 2008 at 02:24 PM · and it is also one of the few venues where when a solo violinist plays pianisimmo out of an unamplified wood box, collectively the audience may want to keep the noise down so that the ticketholders can hear what they have paid for...

i guess the world is changing fast enough that unspoken rules may need to be spoken...in defiance, before they are drowned by the cracklings from peanut shells, popcorn, potato chips...

September 29, 2008 at 03:09 PM · I agree with what the Dottie wrote: a little educating can go a long way and helps a lot. Community orchestras and fiddlers doing demos in schools do this regularly--what's the problem?

And I don't really get Bruce's point either. Maybe it can be a little awkward if people take instructions too literally, but a trace of a little sense of humor would solve that problem.

As far as some of the other comments, such as its being categorically rude to fall asleep, sneeze, or cough during a concert, I literally don't know what to say or how to address it, it seems so bizarre. I suppose coughing can sometimes be voluntary, but the others aren't.

Mostly, I'm just wondering what you expect them to do, if they feel a cough or a nap or a sneeze coming on. They can get up and leave the room, I guess, but wouldn't that be even more disruptive?

September 29, 2008 at 03:50 PM · I think most in the audience are well behaved. As far as I know, it's rare that anyone is deliberately rude sitting in a concert. I think the question is accidental noise. i don't clap between the movements but I don't see why it is such a big issue if it doesn't interrupt with the flow of music. Soloists themselves interrupt, relaxing a bit, wipe their forehead, check the music or strings. It can have an unintended effect and oversensitize listeners to noise. They will pick out the noise first instead of music.

September 29, 2008 at 04:44 PM · I think good points have been made about educating the audience. I know that the conductor of our CO does take a moment to say a few words about the pieces we're about to play. Sometimes it seems to sink in and sometimes the audience forgets themselves and claps during the movements.

I agree that it can kinda' ruin the mood especially on certain pieces, but overall I feel kind of flattered. In my opinion, the real goal of musicians is to bring the music to "the people". In that sense, I think that when people clap during movements it shows that they were inspired in some way to the point of having to release the tension or show their appreciation. Either way, it's a good thing...right? Hey, at least they're not yelling boo! :-)

September 29, 2008 at 04:26 PM · "I don't mean to imply anything by noting this; Classical Music may be the only dying business that demands their terms from paying customers. I am not saying it should or shouldn't."

Interesting point. I agree that often there is a sense of superiority radiating from the stage on to the listeners, and the audience can sometimes feel like they have to bind themselves in a straight-jacket in order to receive the full sense of englightenment brought on by music. It makes you question why you would want to put yourself through it. On the other hand there are many times while sitting in yoga class that I wish the plague on the instructor for putting me in strenuous positions. But I am the one paying for these classes after all aren't I? It's for my own good isn't it? Is classical music to be approached the same way?

The reality is that the paying audience doesn't pay for much if you look at the bottom line of a performing arts organization. As a musician it's nice to look out and see many faces looking back at you, but I know all too well that the cost of their ticket is not what's paying for my fee. Most of the funding comes from government grants, foundation support, corporate support, and donations.

In order to receive government funding an organization must prove that they reach a wide audience, offer educational services, and provide outreach and reduced ticked prices to neighboring communities that may not have funds to support a full-fledged arts program.

Foundation support might usually be given with some sort of stipulation or project in mind such as young artist development, different kinds of outreach, or catering to certain causes. Not always, but it can be expected.

Corporate support is indeed difficult to obtain as an arts organization and will come with its own set of stipulations. Corporate funding is what accounts for pages and pages of advertisements in the program, website, and all printed materials, and you may be expected to provide discounted tickets for the corporation to use as they wish. They want to contribute for tax reasons, but they expect something back (they're called for-profit for a reason).

Donor support are personal contributions made by concert goers and good samaritans. In most cases an organization will label you a certain kind of donor depending on whether you give a little or a lot. Organizations depend on personal contributions and will do many things to reward their donors by selling them advanced tickets, holding seats for them, inviting them to gala events, etc.

Ticket sales don't add up for more than 10-15% of gross income.

So you can see through the ways that organizations obtain money that the performing arts in this country are considered a public service and are treated as such by the government. They exist to create opportunities for the public, not for the performers. We need concert goers so that we can ask for money from the government and say "see, look, people come to our concerts, our audience is growing, more kids are coming, we're getting a younger crowd in, we're giving opportunities to younger musicians, we're expanding programming." Once it has been established that your organization OFFERS, then you shall receive grants... and then you can start paying musicians.

As an arts administrator it is frustrating to see that musicians do not understand this process. It does more harm to the future of classical music to alienate your audience than it does to welcome them, reel them in, and then gradually keep them there. So it may seem a dying business as you say but much can be turned around by changing our own attitude towards the audience. Let it be about them, let it be for them.

September 29, 2008 at 05:19 PM · What I've come to apreciate, is how many symphony and orchestra musicians have other jobs as well as giving lessons in order to make ends-meet. They play because they love playing/singing! Certainly not for the money alone.

September 29, 2008 at 05:31 PM · @ Karen -- I neglected to say "I'd rather have applause between movements than have people thinking we don't want them to applaud at all."

September 29, 2008 at 09:45 PM · "The reality is that the paying audience doesn't pay for much if you look at the bottom line of a performing arts organization."

And yet attending classical music concerts is one of the most expensive entertainment around. It doesn't sound right, does it?

Riccardo Muti used to interrupt the concert and lecture his Philadelphia Orchestra audience on coughing, clapping, paging turning, nose blowing. I am sure much good came out of it.

September 29, 2008 at 07:16 PM · I agree with Marina and Al. I've been thru the coughing thing once. I bought tickets way in advance to see Evgeny Kissin playing piano, and unfortunately I got hit with the flu/cold whatever, and I had a lingering cough.

I was well aware that coughing during the performance will be distracting and I did tried my best not to cough out. But again, like Al said, this is purely involunatary reflex, I have absolutely NO control over it whatsoever. Thank goodness, I put some cough drops in my purse and suck on it occasionally (quietly) to supress my cough as best as I can and I might have only make a small cough here and there, but I'm shock that someone said that you can control that.

September 29, 2008 at 07:38 PM · Hey, guys, lighten up a little. Our economy is going south, we're bailing out every sector of the economy, we're stuck in wars and social strife and all kinds of world grief. In the grand scheme of things, applause or coughing between movements of a concerto or sonata is not a critical problem. Obviously, this is an issue worthy of discussion and debate, but it's not worthy of personal arguments.

The audience is not the enemy, and our fellow artists are not the enemy. The enemies are part ignorance, part lack of common courtesy, and part lack of appreciation for the kind of sacrifices artists make and the kind of intense preparation they commit to for years. Other enemies are bronchitis, laryngitis, flu, the common cold, sinusitis, allergies, and prunes.

Cheers, Sandy

September 29, 2008 at 07:52 PM · @Bruce: I agree completely that I'd prefer applause between movements over no applause (or over booing ;-), or over an audience being so confused they don't know when to applaud. And I still think a little more humor on both sides would go a long way. There's a funny article from a few years ago in The Guardian about a cellist who threw flowers at a man in the front row who fell asleep, and whose "head kept appearing at horribly regular intervals beneath the stand, before being jerked back by his indefatigable neck" as he nodded off.

I guess it surprises me that folks are as concerned as they are about confusing the audience with pre-concert talks. Our conductor does this at our community orchestra concerts and, by and large, the audience seems to like it. But then, they are an inveterate bunch of coughers and sneezers, especially in the winter, so what can you expect? ;-)

October 1, 2008 at 12:10 AM · I am totally against applesauce between movements. First of all, I do not think that food should be brought into the bathroom. It's much too unappetizing. Secondly, why applesauce? ....And furthermore, I....

....What?.....Oh, APPLAUSE between MOVEMENTS of a concerto!!!.....

(Never mind).

October 2, 2008 at 03:50 PM · Did no one here mention the obvious, which is that if an audience claps between movements, they probably think the piece is over?

It indicates a lack of basic comprehension of the music being performed. If they don't even get that fundamental, then what does that say to the performer who has spent so much time preparing the music, and to the people who have wrangled the money to produce the concert or series?

Is it then an amusement, a curiosity, or a circus for the audience member who no clue what they paid to see?

I don't think it's snobbery to recognize that many of the masterworks performed on stage are complex, and have 3 or 4 or 5 parts that together create a whole 'work'.

And. I'll just go ahead and also say the other obvious, which is that the musical experience can be nothing but enhanced, when both the performers and the audience understand what they are performing/experiencing.

If your audience is clapping between movements, then you need to either: 1 - pick repertoire that they can understand, 2 - elevate their understanding. (or both).

And btw, bravo for getting them to clap in the first place.

October 2, 2008 at 05:17 PM · I think people clap between movements against their better judgement a lot of the time - they think that when the musicians stop playing, that it's time to show their appreciation - even after a really sublime slow movement that it just doesn't make sense afterwards to clap for.

Ironically, I've had the opposite happen to me in performance. We were playing the Borodin Polovestian Dances, and the last dance ends on something like an open fifth, not some kind of big V-I cadence. The audience didn't clap at all! The conductor actually turned around and said "That's it!" The audience applauded in between the laughter for that one.

October 2, 2008 at 05:13 PM · I always thought that applauses between the movements was a kind of american tradition (I never experienced it in Europe..). Once in Israel, half the audience clapped after the first mvt of Mahler's first(I presumed they were americans), the other didn't and tried to silence them..The conductor (Zubin Mehta, with an international young musicians orchestra))turned to the audience and said: ladies and gentelmen, this is a very happy evening and I am glad to be here with you, so if you want to clap, go on!!

October 2, 2008 at 05:36 PM · I'm quite surprised that nobody has referenced this fascinating article in The New Yorker about this very question.

Why So Serious? by Alex Ross

Apparently, silence between movements is a modern development.

October 2, 2008 at 06:19 PM · Ilya said, days ago.

"Marina,

off the mark. If you've ever been to a jazz concert, you may have noticed that coughing and talking are not welcomed. It's simple respect for the performers and has got nothing to do with the alleged snobbery of classical music."

As a working jazz musician, I can tell you one thing for sure. Applause, dancing, hooting and other such demonstrations are very welcome after each and every solo during a piece. Talking in a jazz club is normal and to be expected, though I do object to it if it disturbs other members of the audience or the performers. I find it frustrating that some of the audiences, particularly here in staid Seattle, are actually much too polite and quiet, as if they are in a (white) church. On the other hand, I don't think it's fair to compare the two genres. Different traditions and intentions are involved.

October 2, 2008 at 07:46 PM · Scott wrote,

I'm quite surprised that nobody has referenced this fascinating article in The New Yorker about this very question.

Why So Serious? by Alex Ross

Just wanted to point out that Alex Ross just received a MacArthur grant. :D

October 2, 2008 at 08:01 PM · He doesn't need it; he really should give it to me instead.

October 2, 2008 at 08:48 PM · IG's point there was to say there are reasons other than snobbery to not raise a ruckus. He wasn't comparing the music.

Man, they sling those MacArthurs, Pulitzers, and 700B bailouts out like candy off a parade float.

October 3, 2008 at 12:31 AM · I didn't say that he was.

October 3, 2008 at 01:34 AM · You got a MacArthur, too, Jim?

October 3, 2008 at 01:46 AM · First the sun was in my eyes, then a bunch of greedy weirdos like you see on Judge Joe had a riot and blocked it. But it was headed my direction.

October 4, 2008 at 03:08 AM · Just wondering...

When did audience stop applause between movement???

I mean... back in Beethoven's era, audience applause between the movement (premier of Kreutzer sonata?), and sometimes they will repeat the movement again...

October 4, 2008 at 09:05 AM · Shen, here's your answer-

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2008/09/08/080908crmu_music_ross

Very interesting! Give that man a bailout or a Pulitzer.

October 4, 2008 at 01:08 PM · A good place to read about how concerts and recitals developed over the years is Harold C. Schonberg's book "The Virtuosi: Classical Music's Great Performers from Paganini to Pavarotti".

October 4, 2008 at 01:28 PM · When Joshua Bell performed in our town a year or so ago, he was asked that question in an interview with our local paper. He said it didn't bother him at all and cited what others have said here, that it used to be the norm. Many people don't know (not being familiar with Classical music) that you don't clap between movements and so they clap. Fodor recently played in our town as well, (Four Seasons) and the audience learned as it went along. By the last season they didn't clap until the entire section of the work was over.

October 4, 2008 at 02:56 PM · It took them a whole year to learn that?

October 4, 2008 at 05:55 PM · It took them a whole year to learn that?

I'm assuming you're responding to my post? As you know it was obviously a different audience for each concert.

October 4, 2008 at 09:12 PM · So now everyone knows when to clap? It bodes well for the future for classical music. All problems solved. Classical music can only prosper with sold-out houses. Musical kids will be instant heroes in their respective school.

BTW, Alex Ross has a blog:The rest is noise. He often has interesting things to say in his blog.

October 4, 2008 at 07:58 PM · Fascinating article and so on point in this discussion.

I am venturing to say that the format of classical music has changed because the role of classical music has changed. It used to be a form of entertainment. Entertainment can be taken in stride (as I so unfortunately experience at my local movie theater where I wish I could experience true silence but alas cannot due to the timely ringtones of mobiles).

Attending a classical music concert rarely accounts for entertainment nowadays aside from a few of us. It seems to be more of a haughty affair, one that points to the concert goer as being enlightened and well educated, therefore an enraptured, meditative listener.

In my opinion we are starting to move away from typical concerts of ouverture - concerto - intermission - symphony and the like. Hopefully once we get away from all that we'll be able to appreciate our audience as much as we want them to appreciate us.

October 5, 2008 at 05:20 AM · I am curious to what extent anyone who cares to comment would consider someone standing up or sitting but moving about in their seat and blocking the view of a visual presentation equivalent or analogous to hearing talking or persistent coughing, etc. in a performance where the aural element is key?

Also, going further with the visual disturbance angle, what about the tall people who block the view of shorter people- should we require seating (when there is little or no grading or rise in the seats from row to row) tall people in the back and shorter people in front of them?

And then there's this: At one concert, I witnessed one audience member loudly admonish another member of the audience for talking during the performance. Which ended up being the greater disturbance?

Obviously there are situations where people cannot control themselves and situations where they can. I'd think that talking loudly enough such that you disturb those around you is unacceptable at a music concert. Though I can't guarantee it would have worked in every situation, I had a prepared note that I left on the seat of a talkative concertgoer during intermission. Instead of a confrontation, or disturbing others by trying to "shush" the person and thus making noise myself, I simply wrote: "You may not be aware that your voice is carrying a bit loudly and may be disturbing other listeners." Maybe I could have put it better, more obviously, or maybe I shouldn't have done anything, or maybe I should have spoken to the person face to face at intermission, but I chose this route and they got the message and did not talk to their neighbor for the rest of the concert.

Regarding coughing, it's curious that it seems to happen more in quiet places perhaps because loud places in the music typically feel as if there is more energy and excitement there and people are riveted to the more obvious drama and tension whereas in soft places it's as if the tension is lessened and people notice their tickles, and need to clear their throat more.

I fully realize that soft places can be as dramatic and exciting and sometimes more so than loud places, and perhaps people are coughing, or clearing their throats or doing other things even more so in loud places. It just doesn't seem that way.

There is also the possibility, if not likelihood, that people do not know when a soft place is going to happen or for how long and they simply cough or sneeze or clear their throat of a tickle when they feel the need and cannot calculate these things to avoid making these sounds in quiet spots in the music.

October 12, 2008 at 04:19 PM · Funnily enough I was performing last night in an orchestra and we were in the middle of the climax in a piece by Revueltas. At that moment I sneezed. There goes the theory that if you're concentrating enough while you play you won't sneeze. And I'm not even sick.

October 12, 2008 at 07:19 PM · My son and I and a few friends went to the symphony last night and had the privilege of watching Nadja Solerno-Sollenberg play Shoshtakovitch's Violin Concerto No. 1. I have to confess that a few of us in the audience broke out in a little applause at the end of the second movement because she was just so, well, *SO* *MUCH*! It was as if she'd run a marathon! Her antics were jaw dropping, not in a bad way, but you just felt you had to acknowledge her after that movement. However, I promise never to applaud in between movements, even when Sollenberg is playing.

PS. We were able to get $92 tickets for $10 each. Let's hear it for symphonies that offer "student rush" tix!

October 12, 2008 at 07:27 PM · Gesundheit!!!

April 29, 2010 at 04:48 PM ·

Sorry to resurrect this ancient thread...

The other night I went to Itzhak Perlman's recital. He first played Mozart's Sonata for violin and piano in A Major. Quite a few people in the audience applauded between movements. So, before he started Richard Strauss's Sonata for violin and piano in E flat major, he said "I just got a phone call from Mr. Strauss. He heard me play the Mozart Sonata, and told me that he did not appreciate applause between movements..." (I'm paraphrasing). Somehow, some people still managed to applaud after the 1st movement, and he shook his head.  After that - no applause between movements.  Before he started Stravinsky's Suite Italienne for violin and piano, he started with "I just got a phone call from Mr. Stravinsky..." and the audience all laughed and applauded... It was a fun night!

April 29, 2010 at 05:33 PM ·

That's more than a bit arrogant from him, I think.  No, he didn't get a phone call from Strauss, Mozart, or anyone else -- no more than any of the lesser mortals in the audience would have.  He's a brilliant musician, but he's not some priest interposing himself between us and God.

If the music is good enough, the audience will have the "correct" reaction.  I saw Tf3 this weekend in Riverside, and that's what an audience reacts like.  When it was moving, slow, and poignant, then people sat and held the moment and then applauded gently and warmly -- not because we were following some arbitrary rule, but because the music was so perfect.  When it was faster and got the blood moving, people cheered and applauded much more and even at the good parts before the music was over.  In both cases, we weren't sitting there stilted and tense; we followed our hearts, and we had the "right" reaction every time, because the music did its job.  We were so moved that we weren't even able to think of outside rules anyway.

If a musician's "moving, slow, poignant" music results in an audience that is left so UNmoved that it doesn't know what the appropriate reaction is, that musician has failed.  Play better, and the audience will know what to do.

Sometimes with all this "no coughing, no clapping" stuff it feels like the classical world doesn't even want the audience there.  I've read blogs of orchestral performers that complain because people made eye contact with them.  Jeez, if you hate being looked at, what in God's name are you doing in a profession that requires you to be on stage?  Between no eye contact, no coughing, you-may-now-cross-the-other-leg, no making noise, no applauding, no showing appreciation at all ... it sounds like it would be much more to the purists' taste if the audience all bought their tickets and stayed home.

So the audiences reject them back, and attendance falls, and everyone complains that no one comes to classical music concerts anymore.  Why would they?  Why would anyone come to a venue where their presence is plainly considered so disturbing that they were admonished to not make anyone on stage even barely aware of their presence?  I wouldn't want to go see a performer with that attitude.  Let him sit up there and commune with Beethoven by himself if I'm going to be interrupting him.

It's not even necessary for the purposes of the musicianship.  There are tons of brilliant musicians in the world who soldier on in the face of inappropriate clapping, coughing, applause between movements, flash bulbs, and other supposedly intolerable distractions every day.  Many of the world's best musicians have gone on with the show despite having things thrown at them -- and yet one tiny little cough will pop the classical musician's concentration like a soap bubble?

It's reasons like this that I'd sooner go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra ripping Mozart than a typical city symph anymore.  The TSO wants you to have a good time and knows how to play its music so well that there is no question of the "appropriate" response.  Most old-style symphs would more often rather you buy your ticket and then stay home so you don't disturb them while they're communing with Schubert's ghost.  It's not a concert, it's a seance.

Sorry for the giant b*tchy post :-}, but this topic says so much about why the old-style classical music  industry is dying at exactly the same time that new artists like Tf3, Gabriela Montero, and the TSO are taking off wildly along with youth phenomena like Canon Rock and Electrify Your Strings.  People are finally rescuing classical music from the grave, and it's a wonderful time to be a fan of the stuff.  :-)

(Am amused at the idea of an opera crowd being told to stay completely quiet, though.  Good luck with that.  Try it at La Scala and the people in the pigeon loft might throw bottles at you ... )

April 29, 2010 at 07:51 PM ·

Ignorant audience members can be irritating, but it's more often than not a good thing that they're in the hall enjoying the experience.

Erich Leinsdorf wrote of a concerto performance he gave with a young André Watts in New York.  Much applause after the first movement, during which the conductor leaned over to the soloist and told him to get his butt off the bench and take a bow.

Now if we could train American audiences to sit down when they clap, I'd feel happier. 

 

April 30, 2010 at 09:37 AM ·

Echoing Rubinstein's comment...I was at the Scottish Ensemble's 8 Seasons concert last week which alternated Vivaldi and Piazzolla. The leader Jonathan Morton said this confused some audiences as to when to clap, but all they needed to know was "we absolutely love it when you do". The clapping between sections in the Vivaldi was acknowledged with a polite smile. As ever from this group a great concert!

May 1, 2010 at 12:27 AM ·

I haven't noticed any real indifference from classical concert audiences when applause breaks out after a first or second movement (or any that isn't the last one) of a piece. Sometimes I'm the first one to cringe thinking "omg there's a lot of newbies here tonight".  But sometimes if it's really exciting or moving, there should be applause.

I don't know how she feels personally about applause between movements, but when I went to see Hilary Hahn at a recital in Troy a few years ago, the audience applauded after the 1st movement of the Franck Violin Sonata, and she seemed okay with it (She smiled politely. You make the call).

May 1, 2010 at 12:31 AM ·

 

 

May 1, 2010 at 01:59 PM ·

Does anyone know just how this applause protocol got started and why?

May 1, 2010 at 05:51 PM ·

 Joyce, I liked your story. Sounds like Perlman got the point across in a fun, nonthreatening way. 

August 26, 2016 at 01:09 PM · Looking for another old thread I happened to come across this one and will weigh in briefly. Two basic issues have mainly been discussed: keeping quiet during a piece and applauding between movements.

It stands to reason that for everyone's enjoyment and being absorbed into the music, we should stay as quiet as possible. Applauding between movements is another matter and imo it depends on the nature of the movement. The first movement of say, the Tchaikovsky concerto ends with a big "ha-za" and I see nothing wrong with applauding after it. In a movement like that we feed so much energy to the audience that it feels unnatural NOT to applaud. It's similar with the 2nd mvt. of the Franck sonata. It's a tumultuous, exciting movement and almost a recital in itself. I've performed that one at least a few times. Sometimes the audience applauded after everything, sometimes after nothing - except the very end of the last movement. After I and the pianist played our guts out in the 2nd mvt. and it comes to such a crashing finish, when the audience didn't applaud it felt unnatural. I felt like saying "OK, this crowd is more sophisticated and know that the sonata is not over - but didn't you guys like it at all?" On the other hand, to applaud after the 1st and even more so after the 3rd, breaks the spell that hopefully should have been cast.

The pianist, Garry Graffman once played a piece where the audience applauded after a movement and he waved them down to stop them. After the concert, well wishers came to him to congratulate him in the Green Room. Among them was Jascha Heifetz! Said the great H to Graffman: "Young man, never shush your audience!"

August 26, 2016 at 05:45 PM · I've seen concert etiquette explained more frequently these days, usually by the performer on stage.

I've also seen it written in programs (the instructions not to clap between movements), but I suspect that's less effective than a stage announcement.

Part of the issue is that less-knowledgeable concert-goers might actually not know where one movement starts and stops -- i.e., what is a movement, and what is an entire piece. This can get especially confusing when there is an attacca going into the next movement, so even if you're counting, you might miscount how many movements there are. So even if they don't intend to clap between movements they might not know where to actually clap.

Thus I've also seen performers instruct the audience on their cue to clap.

August 26, 2016 at 06:37 PM · Before beginning my last recital on June 3, it was a situation where I was in the small space warming up while the audience trickled in - no formal entrance from the wings. It was a less dramatic situation but nice and intimate.

I started talking to the audience and took questions while we waited for the clock to strike 8. Finally I said "before we start, this would be a good time to remind you to silence your cell phones." As people did that I told a good joke about cell phones and we are all off to a pleasant start.

I began with the 2 movement Mozart sonata in G. They applauded after the first movement and I said "Thanks. And that was just the first movement! Here comes the 2nd movement:" It's true about the audience often not knowing when something has ended. My next-to-last piece was the Hebrew Melody by Achron. Near the end, the audience could understandably think that the high harmonic E ends the piece - especially if you want to leave it kind of hanging in the air and not rush into the next phrase. So my little trick was to turn to the pianist (who knew full well that there was nothing for her to do at that point, as the next number of notes would be unaccompanied) as I ended the E, to give the audience the idea that it was continuing.

So there are nice things we can do without "shushing" our audience.

August 26, 2016 at 07:09 PM · My goodness, this thread has been around a long time. I'd like to share an anecdote that is the opposite problem of the one in this thread.

When I was in college (many, many decades ago), a famous cellist (I won't say who, but he had a distinctive New York accent) gave a recital at our campus. One of the pieces was the Prokofiev Sonata, which most of the audience was clearly not familiar with.

At the conclusion of the Sonata, there was dead silence for several uncomfortable seconds.

The cellist then said (in a loud voice and with his New York accent), "Dat's de end udd'a piece."

The audience then broke into great applause.

Cheers,

Sandy

August 26, 2016 at 08:57 PM · Heifetz said it: Never shush the audience!

Yeah it may not be 'proper', it may break the mood, but if they are genuinely applauding - and sometimes you can tell when they're applauding because they really liked it or because they think it's at the end of the piece and it's time to applaud (what I call 'ignorant applause') - let them do it and be glad for it. :)

August 27, 2016 at 12:07 AM · Clapping between movements is a lot better than clapping in the middle of a movement!

August 27, 2016 at 12:10 AM · "clapping in the middle of a movement"

There are some works in the orchestral repertoire that thus catch out some members of the audience!

August 27, 2016 at 11:47 AM · There's an amazing performance of Salvatore Accardo doing the Paganini "Nel Cor Piu Santo" https://youtu.be/MsAQT1W_zyY After one incredible display of left-hand pizz. the audience, clearly knowing that the piece was not finished but bowled over, gave him a spontaneous and well-deserved round of applause. He was so focused that he did not even crack a smile - but I'm sure he appreciated it.

Not to compare myself with the great Acccardo, I once had a similar experience performing the Sarasate "Caprice Basque". After the Pizz. variation, the audience similarly applauded - but I did smile.

The moral of the stories? Practice your left-hand pizz - fame and fortune will surely follow! Or something.

August 27, 2016 at 10:42 PM · Practice fireworks and you will get applause unless you fail. :)

August 29, 2016 at 09:20 AM · Clearly there are many takes on this and no answer to suit everyone. Here are my thoughts.... largely similar to Raphael's.

'Beethoven..... became increasingly conscious of the effect that the first.... note of one movement would have after the end of what preceded it.' However well-intentioned applause may be, it can potentially destroy this effect and therefore diminish the total experience. However, I recall a broadcast by the great Rudolf Serkin where he delivered a towering performance of the Waldstein sonata. Clearly the audience appreciated what they had witnessed and applauded after the end of the first movement - but it was sufficiently restrained so as not to destroy the continuity - a perfect compromise!

I also recall a well-publicised incident where Sir John Barbirolli descended from the podium and went into the audience to remonstrate with two people who were talking and rustling sweet wrappers during the performance. Extreme perhaps, but I would regard their behaviour as disrespectful to the rest of the audience and the performers, disruptive, and therefore unacceptable - if they want to chat there are plenty of other places to do that.

Not sure where I read this, but the Chinese used to say that applause would disperse the energy within a building. So applause at the start of a piece clears the energy in preparation for the performance. But applause at the end disperses and destroys the energy produced by what has just taken place - so one should applaud at the beginning but not at the end. But imagine trying to restrain an audience at the end of Bruckner 5, Beethoven 7 or the Tchaikovsky concerto! One of the benefits of listening at home to a broadcast or a CD, perhaps? Personally I love that uplifted feeling at the end of one of these pieces, but the chance of experiencing that in the concert hall is approximately nil. Though I do recall a particularly magnificent performance of the Missa Solemnis where there was a lengthy, stunned silence at the end before tumultuous applause - another perfect compromise?

August 29, 2016 at 11:08 AM · "I do recall a particularly magnificent performance of the Missa Solemnis where there was a lengthy, stunned silence at the end before tumultuous applause - another perfect compromise?"

I've had a similar experience after performing the Bloch "Nigun" - and that meant more than all the immediate applause in the world. I mentioned above where I did not want applause at a juncture near the end of the Achron "Hebrew Melody". Similarly, an audience might applaud after the first high A near the end of the "Meditation" from "Thais". And in a similar way I might turn to the orchestra or pianist to give the audience the idea that I'm continuing - or I might continue with the bow in a circular motion to the D that follows, without playing it till it feels right to do so.

August 29, 2016 at 12:46 PM · Milstein once got to the end of a recital and heard nothing but silence from his audience. He just stood there for a minute and then walked off.

On the drive to the airport, the local manager complimented him on the performance but wondered why he didn't play the last movement of the Hindemith solo sonata. Aghast, Milstein said "But I was playing the Prokofiev!"

August 29, 2016 at 08:07 PM · lol!

I heard 2 other stories Milstein told about himself: 1. He was performing one of the Bach sonatas. He started the fugue, played a few measures - and the next thing he knew, he cut to the last few measures! "What happened to my fuga?" he asked himself.

2. He told this one to Zukerman: In another Bach performance he started one of the movements and after a while he found that he had modulated to another movement from a different Bach piece. He said that there were some prominent violinists in the audience - but no one called him on it afterwards! Did they not notice? Were they too polite to say anything? Did some notice but thought they were hearing things?

August 29, 2016 at 09:14 PM · The joys of endless tours and jet lag...

August 29, 2016 at 09:20 PM · I don't have it close to hand, but IIRC, Menuhin wrote a bit about this issue in his memoirs. Specifically, there was a tour he did in Africa that took him well outside of the colonial capitals to people who might never have heard Western music, much less seen a violin. He very much enjoyed playing the Mendelssohn Concerto for them, and hearing the little ripples of appreciative murmuring that ran through the crowd after some of the more spectacular licks. Like a jazz concert, perhaps.

Maybe an analogy to all this is a lecture (another kind of "recital"). Sometimes you really do need uninterrupted silence to get the point across. Other times, it is not unheard of for people to wander in and out, laugh at your jokes, or even interrupt with questions. The trick is to make sure that everyone is clear about what's going on.

August 31, 2016 at 03:53 AM · Speaking of cross-cultural experiences, I have a dear friend, Darla, who is a classical bassist and whose husband is a well-known jazz bassist. I once attended one of her husband's performances and sat with her and a mutual friend in the club. At the end of one set there was applause, to which I added "Bravo!" Darla chuckled and said "I bet that was the first time anyone shouted "bravo" in this club." I said "I guess I haven't lost my classical accent!"

September 1, 2016 at 08:24 PM · so...as this thread comes near to its end, I thought I'd let one of the smartest of literary characters - "HAMLET" (with a little tweaking from yours truly) share his insights on the subject:

To ‘plaud or not to ‘plaud?

That is the question!

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind

To suffer the slings and arrows of

Outrageous quietude

And sit on one’s hands

Whilst a pause in the musick’s progress

Doth beckon our response?

Or to take arms against a sea of silence

And by opposing one hand ‘gainst the other

In tumultuous uproar

Beget a joyful noise and

End the pause of silent tyranny?

To ‘plaud, to

Reign in our energies

No more…

‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

But soft!

To ‘plaud, perchance to scream!

For what terrors of righteous indignation

May come crashing

Down onto us

Upon our merry outburst?

Aye, there’s the rub!

For that dread of fearsome consequence

As may await us

From the ire of

Fretful performer and

The snobbery of learned audience

Doth make cowards of us all!

September 1, 2016 at 08:36 PM · Who can top that response!

September 2, 2016 at 11:54 AM · Thanks! I also asked Macbeth and King Lear for their opinions - but they wouldn't really answer me; they were even more depressed than Hamlet! One kept hallucinating that he saw a bow before him and the other just kept mutter (Mutter?)ring that his favorite daughter didn't love him!

September 4, 2016 at 12:28 AM · Raphael, your poetical insights are starting to get known and loved in the UK ;)

September 5, 2016 at 04:31 AM · Oh my - I'm starting to blush!

September 5, 2016 at 07:34 PM · you're one of a kind Raphael!

September 5, 2016 at 08:11 PM · Aw shucks, Ma'am!

September 10, 2016 at 11:59 AM · And finally(?) if 'plauders be the fools for love, 'plaud on!

September 13, 2016 at 05:25 PM · Finis. Exit stage right...

September 13, 2016 at 05:26 PM · ...to thunderous applause!

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