BBC Prommers: Clapping between movements is ‘barbarous’ – Telegraph

It was once the scourge of classical music traditionalists, then embraced by the powers-that-be in attempts to make concerts less intimidating to excited new audiences.

But it appears Proms modernisers could be losing their battle to insist clapping in between movements is perfectly welcome.

While the new director of BBC Proms confesses he “loves” hearing enthusiastic audiences clap, his own die-hard audience members have dismissed the practice as “barbarous”.

I actually loathe the experience of attending classical concerts, with their codified rules of applause, demands of encores, the guy who yells “Bravo!” as soon as the music is over, and the annoyance of those who make even the slightest noise. Calling clapping barbarous is simply a way of expressing superiority. And it’s childish: “Do it my way, or don’t come to the concert!”

Classical music needs new listeners, not more people put off by anal concert-goers who get irked by any expression of emotion. I had thought that the BBC Proms were much less stressed than that, but I guess I was wrong.

Source: BBC Prommers: Clapping between movements is ‘barbarous’

26 thoughts on “BBC Prommers: Clapping between movements is ‘barbarous’ – Telegraph

  1. If the audience shows enthusiasm for the musicians by applauding in between movements, it will only encourage them.

  2. If the audience shows enthusiasm for the musicians by applauding in between movements, it will only encourage them.

  3. Not clapping between movements is not a matter of expressing ones superiority. There are numerous examples of movements that end without pause to continue immediately into de next movement. That is called an attaca. One example of an attaca can be found in Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony. Applauding at that moment breaks the tension of the transition. In addition, musicians really need their concentration to follow the conductor and play their music and applause between movement is breaking that.

    So actually not applauding between movements is considerate behavior that allows the orchestra to play the concerto in one piece. Including the pauses between movements. Think of them as part and parcel of the concerto and try not to think of a concerto consisting of two or more disjoint movements.

      • It is not always obvious that there is an attaca. Ever attended a concert where people were clapping hesitantly after a movement because they’re not really sure if it is ended?

  4. Not clapping between movements is not a matter of expressing ones superiority. There are numerous examples of movements that end without pause to continue immediately into de next movement. That is called an attaca. One example of an attaca can be found in Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony. Applauding at that moment breaks the tension of the transition. In addition, musicians really need their concentration to follow the conductor and play their music and applause between movement is breaking that.

    So actually not applauding between movements is considerate behavior that allows the orchestra to play the concerto in one piece. Including the pauses between movements. Think of them as part and parcel of the concerto and try not to think of a concerto consisting of two or more disjoint movements.

      • It is not always obvious that there is an attaca. Ever attended a concert where people were clapping hesitantly after a movement because they’re not really sure if it is ended?

  5. Too many listeners applaud because they think they’re supposed to. Applause is often given at the wrong points, by listeners unfamiliar with the music. I remember an audience clapping at the mid-way pause in ASZ. Sheesh.

    The ONLY reason for applauding is that you liked the music and/or its performance. Of course, at a time when recordings didn’t exist, and you might hear a work only once or twice in your lifetime, it was appropriate to applaud after movements you liked. This is no longer true, as 90% of the pieces on concert programs are works any classical listener should be familiar with.

  6. Too many listeners applaud because they think they’re supposed to. Applause is often given at the wrong points, by listeners unfamiliar with the music. I remember an audience clapping at the mid-way pause in ASZ. Sheesh.

    The ONLY reason for applauding is that you liked the music and/or its performance. Of course, at a time when recordings didn’t exist, and you might hear a work only once or twice in your lifetime, it was appropriate to applaud after movements you liked. This is no longer true, as 90% of the pieces on concert programs are works any classical listener should be familiar with.

    • Good fun I think and quite a different ambience. And I suspect a different choice of music than other concert types. Hardly a good moment to do Mahlers 5th or 9th just to mention something. You know what? See if you can find a recent Mahler 5 by the Concertgebouworkest and sit down and listen to it. See if you can find good moments to clap.

    • Good fun I think and quite a different ambience. And I suspect a different choice of music than other concert types. Hardly a good moment to do Mahlers 5th or 9th just to mention something. You know what? See if you can find a recent Mahler 5 by the Concertgebouworkest and sit down and listen to it. See if you can find good moments to clap.

  7. Humans are amazingly adaptable. We can intuitively respond to the most subtle of social clues. I don’t remember how young I was when I intuitively understood not to applaud in between every movement of a classical piece, yet it was fine to vigorously applaud a jazz solo in progress. I guess maybe I just followed what the older, more experienced folks were doing.

    How hard would it be for people to learn that as long as the conductor is facing the orchestra, baton aloft, withhold your applause; when he or she turns to face the audience at completion of the work, then give it up?

    I agree with earlier comments that premature applause steals energy and concentration from the performers. And if some knucklehead claps after the first movement, after the second movement a few less impulsive listeners may decide to join them in sympathy. Better to savor the whole performance, and save your applause until the end. Otherwise, why bother? Just go to a rock concert.

    • ‘Just go to a rockconcert’ that’s the mentality I don’t like. There’s another ‘behaviour’ I don’t get: scores on their knees and hearing the paper when turning the page. Hardcore classical elitists please shut up. Rockconcert visitors pay 100% out of their own pocket; elitists ……btw: most played living composer: Karl Jenkins, no clapping moments. Rutter’s requiem, no clapping moments. Some people don’t get it.

  8. Humans are amazingly adaptable. We can intuitively respond to the most subtle of social clues. I don’t remember how young I was when I intuitively understood not to applaud in between every movement of a classical piece, yet it was fine to vigorously applaud a jazz solo in progress. I guess maybe I just followed what the older, more experienced folks were doing.

    How hard would it be for people to learn that as long as the conductor is facing the orchestra, baton aloft, withhold your applause; when he or she turns to face the audience at completion of the work, then give it up?

    I agree with earlier comments that premature applause steals energy and concentration from the performers. And if some knucklehead claps after the first movement, after the second movement a few less impulsive listeners may decide to join them in sympathy. Better to savor the whole performance, and save your applause until the end. Otherwise, why bother? Just go to a rock concert.

    • ‘Just go to a rockconcert’ that’s the mentality I don’t like. There’s another ‘behaviour’ I don’t get: scores on their knees and hearing the paper when turning the page. Hardcore classical elitists please shut up. Rockconcert visitors pay 100% out of their own pocket; elitists ……btw: most played living composer: Karl Jenkins, no clapping moments. Rutter’s requiem, no clapping moments. Some people don’t get it.

  9. Another current ‘barbarous’ and related selfie-generation behavior that I also have difficulty accepting – constantly (like every 45 seconds) interrupting a political speech with wild applause every time the candidate says something that you happen to agree with. Well, we’re all **there** because we agree with what they are saying, right? So wouldn’t you want to actually listen to **all** of what they have to say, and **then** applaud, wildly, at the conclusion?

  10. Another current ‘barbarous’ and related selfie-generation behavior that I also have difficulty accepting – constantly (like every 45 seconds) interrupting a political speech with wild applause every time the candidate says something that you happen to agree with. Well, we’re all **there** because we agree with what they are saying, right? So wouldn’t you want to actually listen to **all** of what they have to say, and **then** applaud, wildly, at the conclusion?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.