Dear #Classicalmusic Fan,
Please leave the candy at home.
There are people who still take sugar candy to #classicalmusic concerts and unwrap it in the middle of a piece of music.
They do so slowly and drag out the excruciating process because they think it’s quieter. And they think only a few people can hear them unwrapping.
Believe me, sweet wrappers are like the triangle – it doesn’t matter how much noise is going on, it’ll still be heard by everyone in the concert venue. Please don’t bother trying to prove me wrong – you won’t be able to and you’ll just annoy a bunch of performers and audience members during your experiment.
Another thing about annoying audience members (I’m going to call them Noosances) is when they shush you.
There are times it is good to stay quiet.
There are also times it is totally okay to cheer, whistle, clap and get on your feet, too.
Even during the music.
In fact, whether a solo player does a fabulous job or there is a really rousing end to the movement or piece, the only way the performers know they did a decent job is if you clap. If it was FABULOUS then get up and cheer, too!
You may notice, sometimes, ensemble players scrape their feet on the floor during the music – that is their own way of letting a performer know they did well. Often happens after individual solos. For some reason, oboe players particularly like it.
Clapping Not Permitted.
But what about all this nonsense about ‘to clap or not to clap’ and those Noosances that tell you to be quiet? It is nonsense. I’m going to let you in on a secret:
All this silence between the movements of a piece is a relatively new phenomenon, and not at all what the original composers were expecting (of classical music written before 1940, at least.)
Indeed, this is the story: In the 1930s the conductor Toscanini would present concerts live on the radio throughout the USA. Everyone knew how long the music lasted, so the radio program was designed to last that long and then they could add commercials and whatever else to help pay for broadcast. Unfortunately, the programs kept running late and over time. Toscanini swore (in Italian, probably) that he was not conducting the music slower, and then someone realized… it was the clapping between movements that added extra time!
That was normal, by the way.
Beethoven’s concerts would last three or four hours with lots of music, and even the movements of his symphonies were divided up with other music being played in between! All the while, the audience were mingling, sitting, drinking and eating, and there was generally some chatting, too. Kind of like a regular non-classical concert these days, actually.
Well, the radio station had to ask audiences to not clap between movements of a concerto or symphony and a new ‘tradition’ was born. Academics then decided to add a further layer of snobbery by stating things like “clapping between movements ruins the flow of the whole piece” and other such “considerations.”
As Rubeus Hagrid said, “Codswallop.”
When you next attend one of my own concerts, feel free to go ahead and let the performers know exactly what you think of their efforts.
Have you heard the one about the audience throwing chairs around during the World Premiere of a piece by Stravinsky?
Look that story up, if not.
Hardly a silent audience indeed.
Nails on a Chalkboard
Anyway, the bottom line of Audience Etiquette is… follow the lead of the conductor, leader of the ensemble, solo performer, and then the audience around you. If you see them moving slowly, calmly and quietly, it’s probably best not to clap. If they are smiling, laughing, happy, energetic, swooping, go right ahead and join in their fun! If you feel out of place clapping (even when everyone else is), then don’t clap.
If you don’t care and can’t restrain your enthusiasm, then go ahead and let the world know how happy you are. Nothing wrong with that.
And if a Noosance tells you to be quiet with a giant shhh (which, by the way, is to a performer like nails on a chalkboard), ask them proudly (while still clapping) “You seriously didn’t think that was AWESOME?! Come on, dude! Get real!”
You’ll be giving classical music its long overdue renovation, for sure.
No hall passes for tardiness
Oh, one last thing about the Audience Etiquette point: Don’t arrive late.
Not at the start of a concert, and certainly not after the intermission.
André Rieu was onstage in New Jersey waiting to start his performance while audience members were still arriving. He asked them what the problem was and someone said “Traffic.” He replied “What, you think we don’t have traffic in Denmark? Yet we can get places on time.”
Just don’t be late to your seat.
Fortunately, when listening to the radio, you won’t be interrupting any other audience members or the performers while doing another activity (unless you call in and be really annoying, but that takes effort. It’s more fun to just call in and join in the conversation…)
And there’s a great new way to present classical music on the radio in the USA.
You’ll find out what that is on Saturday, November 4 at 8am Eastern Time – either on the airwaves, online, or via Facebook Live.
But only if we have sufficient funds…
Just $100 or even $20 will help.
Please donate today, and encourage other fans of classical music to send their support, too.
Donate online here:
It’s fully tax deductible in the USA!