Jeff Wright wrote:
>I dont condone audiences applauding in the middle of symphonies et al.
>Audiences have become more sophisticated than some give them credit for.
>Too bad the Halycon days are long gone, when people went to concerts to
>listen and to be entertained....basically. My Mother being a professional
>dancer and my father a conductor of substance, so I do know a little about
>audience behaviour, being there for so many concerts, especially during the
>bombing of London in WW2 One never heard utterances from the audience even
>as they tried to bomb the RAH!
While this certainly reflects modern practice it is interesting to note
that this was not always the case. In the distant past the custom was
quite different. That is why in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto there
is a loud, bland tutti after the cadenza - the composer wrote it that way
deliberately in expectation of applause from the audience. Again applause
between movements of symphonies was not uncommon last century. I have
always imagined it being quite natural to hear applause after some of
the monumental sense of finality following some of the codas of certain
Bruckner movements, and people probably did applaud last century when
they approved of the movement. Interestingly there are reports even
from earlier this century, for example after Furtwaengler conducted the
St Mathew Passion at the Salzburg Festival of the audience deliberately
not applauding in silent respect of the fact that sacred music was being
played. In contrast today one even hears performances of Renaissance
polyphony being applauded.
Nonetheless I believe that the tendency for modern audiences to cough and
splutter relentlessly is far worse that the old custom of throwing rotten
tomatoes at soloists who put up a poor performance (perhaps this one should
be revived by the period music movement). I believe it was Jon Vickers,
who singing in Act 3 of Tristan on stage, had just died, but nonetheless
annoyed by an incessant splutterer, he suddenly 'came back to life' to
berate the offender to shut up!
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