Why No Applause ...

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dulcinea
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Why No Applause ...

Post by dulcinea » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:00 pm

... after every section of a chamber piece, symphony or concerto?
In opera you are expected to applaud after every big musical number; why not applaud every section of a chamber piece, symphony or concerto in order to let the players know how much you enjoy their performance so far?
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

John F
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:55 pm

Applause between movements used to be normal, and Mozart tells us of a Paris audience that applauded during one of his movements - and he composed the music to provoke that. During the 19th century, composers began trying to prevent it, with instructions in their scores ("attacca," meaning "go on to the next movement without pause") and even composed transitions between movements (the last three of Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony). However, the same composers sometimes composed movements with endings that invite applause, as with the first movement of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto.

All inter-movement applause came to be looked down on, and even shushed, during the 20th century. I've no explanation for this. Sometimes an audience will break the silence with applause, not just coughing and dropped umbrellas, and sometimes I join in. Why not?
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by Lance » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:06 am

Yes, I have noted this too, having recently taken in an opera. People are eager when the singer's pipes inspire such applause!

I always remember what pianist Artur Rubinstein wrote: He had no problems with people applauding between movements. A week later, he appeared in concert (a concerto I believe) and people clapped. He looked at them with disdain and disapproval! Apparently he didn't believe what he stated after all.

What performing artists tell me is that they are so connected, spiritually to the music, that any noise or disturbance (such as applauding) breaks that thinking pattern and mode of mind. It does bother ME, just a little, if people applaud during movements. Many times, I think it's because they are not sure a composition is completed or may be new to the concert hall. I think that if we all went to hear Schubert's cycle "Winterreise," we would hold our total applause until the very end of the recital rather than clap for every lied. Am I correct in this assumption? Or if we were to hear Orff's "Carmina Burana," we would wait until the end of the piece, yes?
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:23 am

The programs at recitals often request the audience to wait until the end of each group of songs or selections before applauding, and that's fine with me. Also, if an audience applauds after each two- or three-minute song, the applause soon becomes merely dutiful, and by the end the audience has worn itself out and doesn't have much left for the concert as a whole.

But the programs of symphony concerts contain no such requests, or instructions, and it's up to the audience to do as it sees fit. Present-day classical music concert etiquette prefers silence, but the ushers won't throw you out if you choose to demonstrate your approval. As for the performers, no doubt there are those who want to close themselves off in their private world while performing, as if the audience weren't there, and even squelch applause at the end until they come out of it, but why then perform in public at all?
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by Lance » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:39 am

John F wrote:{snipped} As for the performers, no doubt there are those who want to close themselves off in their private world while performing, as if the audience weren't there, and even squelch applause at the end until they come out of it, but why then perform in public at all?
As usual, you make a very valid point, John Francis! I have viewed some of these artists, particularly pianists, who maintain the look of being in another land at the end of, for example, the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto in D Minor, who suddenly "come out it" when the applause (appropriately) erupts.
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Ricordanza
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by Ricordanza » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:44 am

This topic brings to mind a Philadelphia Orchestra concert three years ago, the first guest appearance of Yannick Nezet-Seguin, who is now their music director designate. The piece in question was Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony. Instead of the “big finish” finale, the final movement, Adagio lamentoso, moves at a mournful pace until the last, almost imperceptible notes by the cellos and basses. But this is preceded by a furiously energetic Scherzo, which does finish “big” and sometimes provokes a round of applause. To preclude this, Yannick introduced the piece to the audience, reminding them of the special effect that Tchaikovsky was trying to create by this unusual progression, and asking the audience to honor the composer’s intention by refraining from applause at the conclusion of the third movement. The audience complied, and at the end, helped preserve the mood by waiting at least a half minute after the last note sounded and the conductor dropped his hands before applauding. Only then did the audience let loose with a loud, enthusiastic standing ovation.

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:13 am

Ricordanza wrote:Yannick introduced the piece to the audience, reminding them of the special effect that Tchaikovsky was trying to create by this unusual progression, and asking the audience to honor the composer’s intention by refraining from applause at the conclusion of the third movement.
That movement is a notorious applause trap, and there are others too. More than once I've heard part of the audience applaud halfway through the finale of the Trout Quintet, where Schubert ends the section with such a decisive cadence that it really does sound like the end of the movement.

But I question whether Nézet-Séguin is right to claim that it was Tchaikovsky's intention for the audience not to applaud at the end of the third movement. Seems to me that the music proclaims his intention that they do! At the first performance, conducted by Tchaikovsky himself, when nobody in the audience had heard the music before, and when there was no custom to prevent applauding between movements - to the contrary! - they surely must have applauded. And with his long experience of composing for the theatre and knowing how audiences respond, he can't have been taken by surprise. Unless the score has an "attacca" instruction between the third and fourth movements, or unless Tchaikovsky's wish for audience silence is otherwise documented, I should think he either had no intention in particular, or that he actually intended the audience to applaud.

Rather, it was Nézet-Séguin's intention that they not applaud, for reasons of his own which he attributed to the composer. I suppose it's OK for a performer to lecture the audience about when they may and may not applaud, though frankly that doesn't sit well with me; we in the audience have our rights too! But when doing so, the performer should acknowledge that it's his own preference and not necessarily the composer's.
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:11 pm

Several years ago the Catholic church in the town of Queensbury installed a new organ and took what is around here the unheard-of step of hiring an internationally famous recital organist to give the inaugural recital (Felix Hell, if you want to look him up). Although every organist from miles around was there, there aren't that many of us, and most of the capacity audience consisted of parishioners and other locals. In what has become known in local lore as the Battle of Queensbury, the organ was not really ready for such a trying out and broke down repeatedly during the recital (the maker was on hand to fix it each time). On top of that, Felix deviated from his printed program in ways most people could not figure out. So not only did they applaud enthusiastically at the end of every movement (e.g., the prelude of a Bach prelude and fugue), they applauded every time there was silence, including all those points of breakdown.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by Lance » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:27 pm

Was the organ ever fixed properly to avoid breakdowns during performances? You are correct, the organ should not have been presented until all was A-OK.
jbuck919 wrote:Several years ago the Catholic church in the town of Queensbury installed a new organ and took what is around here the unheard-of step of hiring an internationally famous recital organist to give the inaugural recital (Felix Hell, if you want to look him up). Although every organist from miles around was there, there aren't that many of us, and most of the capacity audience consisted of parishioners and other locals. In what has become known in local lore as the Battle of Queensbury, the organ was not really ready for such a trying out and broke down repeatedly during the recital (the maker was on hand to fix it each time). On top of that, Felix deviated from his printed program in ways most people could not figure out. So not only did they applaud enthusiastically at the end of every movement (e.g., the prelude of a Bach prelude and fugue), they applauded every time there was silence, including all those points of breakdown.
Lance G. Hill
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:38 pm

Lance wrote:Was the organ ever fixed properly to avoid breakdowns during performances? You are correct, the organ should not have been presented until all was A-OK.
jbuck919 wrote:Several years ago the Catholic church in the town of Queensbury installed a new organ and took what is around here the unheard-of step of hiring an internationally famous recital organist to give the inaugural recital (Felix Hell, if you want to look him up). Although every organist from miles around was there, there aren't that many of us, and most of the capacity audience consisted of parishioners and other locals. In what has become known in local lore as the Battle of Queensbury, the organ was not really ready for such a trying out and broke down repeatedly during the recital (the maker was on hand to fix it each time). On top of that, Felix deviated from his printed program in ways most people could not figure out. So not only did they applaud enthusiastically at the end of every movement (e.g., the prelude of a Bach prelude and fugue), they applauded every time there was silence, including all those points of breakdown.
This was the magnum opus of a local builder, with all that means in both directions. Although it eventually played reliably, apparently they never got everything quite right, because in 2010, to great scandal, it was removed and destroyed.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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bricon
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by bricon » Sun Feb 19, 2012 5:43 pm

dulcinea wrote: In opera you are expected to applaud after every big musical number
Not really.
Applause during an operatic scene can break the dramatic flow of the work and some composers deliberately composed transitional pieces immediately following a “hit” aria to keep the drama flowing.
A good example is Calaf’s famous Act III aria from Turandot (Nessun dorma).

Puccini wanted the action to move on immediately following the final Vincero! so there is a short (strings) transition that leads into the Ping, Pong, Pang response. Unfortunately, Puccini’s wishes aren’t always followed with audience applause (almost inevitably) drowning out the transition and the beginning of the Mandarins’ section that follows – some conductors will even conclude Nessun dorma with a concert ending to accommodate applause, before continuing.

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:50 pm

bricon wrote:Puccini wanted the action to move on immediately following the final Vincero! so there is a short (strings) transition that leads into the Ping, Pong, Pang response. Unfortunately, Puccini’s wishes aren’t always followed with audience applause (almost inevitably) drowning out the transition and the beginning of the Mandarins’ section that follows – some conductors will even conclude Nessun dorma with a concert ending to accommodate applause, before continuing.
Though I admire Puccini, I have to wonder about a composer of opera in the high Italian tradition, verismo notwithstanding, writing a bravura aria and imagining that he can configure things so that its climactic ending will not be followed by applause. At the risk of being presumptuous, it sounds like something he might have wanted to revise if he had lived to do so.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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John F
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:33 pm

bricon wrote:
dulcinea wrote: In opera you are expected to applaud after every big musical number
Not really.
Applause during an operatic scene can break the dramatic flow of the work and some composers deliberately composed transitional pieces immediately following a “hit” aria to keep the drama flowing.
A good example is Calaf’s famous Act III aria from Turandot (Nessun dorma).
Nonetheless, the audience will have its way and every conductor knows it will. He can choose to stop the orchestra until the applause subsides and then resume, or forge ahead trying to suppress it - which ensures that some of the music won't be heard, and may make for strained relations with the singer... Either way, it's not just the composer's intention but the conductor's that's involved.
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:58 am

jbuck919 wrote: it sounds like something he might have wanted to revise if he had lived to do so.
Forget that revision--he could have actually come up with a finish for his opera! Regards, Len :)

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:04 am

John F wrote: Nonetheless, the audience will have its way and every conductor knows it will.
I go to so few actual classical music concerts and prefer to hear a whole piece through without applause but I can see the point of those who would allow applause--my question is that the applause would only be at the end of a section, right? For example Grieg's piano concerto--the applause would only come at the end of a movement. Has there ever been a case where applause might break out during a movement? Regards, Len

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:35 am

"Ever" is a long time. I've mentioned frequently, including toward the beginning of this thread, the Mozart story; also in this thread I've mentioned Schubert's Trout Quintet.
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:26 am

John F wrote:"Ever" is a long time. I've mentioned frequently, including toward the beginning of this thread, the Mozart story; also in this thread I've mentioned Schubert's Trout Quintet.
Thanks, I went back and reread that material--the Schubert then was just an honest mistake by the audience then! :)

You also say:

"Applause between movements used to be normal, and Mozart tells us of a Paris audience that applauded during one of his movements - and he composed the music to provoke that. "

Could you tell me what pieces Mozart did that for--that he actually wanted the audience to do that? Regards, Len

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:21 pm

Among other mentions, there's this quotation from Alex Ross:
Alex Ross wrote:Mozart played to the crowd

The classical concert of the 18th century was radically different from the rather staid and timid affair of today. Famous evidence comes from a letter that Mozart wrote to his father after the premiere of his "Paris" Symphony: "Right in the middle of the First Allegro came a Passage that I knew would please, and the entire audience was sent into raptures . . . and as I knew, when I wrote the passage, what good effect it would make, I brought it once more at the end of the movement — and sure enough there they were: the shouts of 'da capo'." This kind of behaviour seems in line with what you find in jazz clubs, where people applaud after each solo, as well as at the end of each number.
http://www.classicalmusicguide.com/view ... se#p351124

In this context, "da capo!" means "encore!"
John Francis

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:36 pm

John F wrote:"Paris" Symphony: "Right in the middle of the First Allegro came a Passage that I knew would please, and the entire audience was sent into raptures
Thanks, fascinating material--and I have to ashamedly admit I didn't know what symphony was the "Paris" symphony--thank goodness for wiki--I'll be playing this work tonight as I prepare dinner!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_N ... 8Mozart%29

Regards, Len :)

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by slofstra » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:24 pm

The reason for no applause between movements is so that everyone can tell who is there for the very first time.

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:37 pm

slofstra wrote:The reason for no applause between movements is so that everyone can tell who is there for the very first time.
Some time ago I reviewed a concert that included Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello Op. 7 (the review was lost in the Great Un-Backing-Up), a piece I had never heard. There was no indication in the program of how many movements the piece had, and I admitted in the review that a number of audience members including myself applauded at the end of the first movement, thinking it was a one-movement work. I can't speak for the others, but for me there was also an element of wishful thinking involved.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:09 am

jbuck919 wrote:I can't speak for the others, but for me there was also an element of wishful thinking involved.
Well now I've heard Mozart's Paris symphony for the first time--no applause coming from my CD player--only the kitchen where I was preparing dinnner! :) Wishful thinking on my part was wishing the symphony was even longer than it was--what a gem--had to play it a second time! Regards, Len

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:10 am

Yes, the Paris Symphony is quite something, isn't it? Made a huge impression on me when I heard it for the first time at about 15, over the radio and then in concert. There's a passage in the first movement recapitulation that still excites me as it did then - not the one that got the Paris audience applauding, but this, from 4:08 to 5:12:



Not bad for a 22-year-old!
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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:12 pm

John F wrote:Yes, the Paris Symphony is quite something, isn't it?
Yes, I liked it so much I'm gonna listen to it tonight again while in the kitchen--then it's back to Donizetti! Regards, Len [fleeing]

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:47 am

Why no applause, probably because Sir Simon Rattle is Conducting...no, I did not read the post, just the Thread title... :wink:
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by John F » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:55 am

Hey Chalkie! Great to see you back in the middle of things.
John Francis

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Re: Why No Applause ...

Post by lennygoran » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:57 am

Chalkperson wrote:Why no applause, probably because Sir Simon Rattle is Conducting...no, I did not read the post, just the Thread title... :wink:
Maybe there'd be more applause if it was Andrew Lloyd Weber we were talking about--I can't wait to see the sequel to the Phantom--how can it fail with a song like Coney Island Waltz! Regards, Len [born and bred in Brooklyn] :)

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