Great and interesting article. New view points of the classical music audience.
I don’t think I can agree with a lot of this article.
Ugh. I sort of understand where they are going with this..but if I practice my Mendelssohn Scherzo or Firebird Variation excerpt for hours and hours and hours over my lifetime..bitches better not be “wooting” during that part and they can sit back, listen and enjoy. You can clap after all the work is over.
I’m perfectly content sitting in my seat at the symphony grinning and vibrating with excitement in total silence, while enjoying what the professionals exhibit what they have meticulously prepared.
I think Beethoven wanted his audiences to react, but everything I know about him suggests that he would not have appreciated an audience so riled up that his music could not be clearly heard. To suggest otherwise, as this orchestra executive does, is…retarded, in my opinion:
Beethoven, it turns out, was not a follower of tradition. And no one was expected to keep quiet during his performances either. The music was much too wild, too complex, too dramatic and demanding. If it was gauche, the audience complained or praised at will just as they do today in non-classical concert experiences.
A silent and attentive audience is not necessarily an unexcited or unmoved one. Quiet in the concert hall is a form of intensive appreciation, not of social oppression. Audiences used to be more…lively, this is undoubtedly true based on historical accounts. But from that it does not at all follow that this is a practice which was roundly appreciated by the musicians of the XIX Century and should be emulated by audiences in the XXI.
Orchestras are hurting, and they need to fill their halls. Sure: symphony hall does not need to be a formal occasion—people should come to hear great music, not to admire one another’s ties and jewelry. It could be less stuffy; one conductor I know once expressed his fervent wish that everyone would show up in jeans and t-shirts.
But revival needs to be accomplished by increasing young people’s exposure to and interest in classical music, a tough challenge considering the cultural climate in our society today, and by nurturing new music written by living people that concertgoers can connect with and follow.
The minute the concert hall takes on the atmosphere of a football stadium, the sanctity of music has just been one-upped by the need to sell tickets. There’s a better balance to be found, I assure you.
“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.”—Neil Gaiman, American Gods