When Franz Liszt performed, the audience got so caught up in the moment that it would applaud and cheer after every movement. Sometimes people would even clap during the performance. Liszt then might start to improvise and work the crowd like a Vegas performer. Nowadays such behavior would be unthinkable. But should it be?
In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Richard Dare, the CEO and managing director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, argued that classical concerts have become too devoid of such spontaneity. Audiences are stifled by ritual and protocol, he said, and are afraid of clapping between movements and attracting the scorn of fellow patrons. Dare's article, "The Awfulness of Classical Music Explained," was widely shared on social media and unleashed hundreds of comments.
In this podcast, Dare tells Naomi Lewin what he meant by the article, and explains how he'd put his arguments into action.
Also joining us is Philip Kennicott, the art and architecture critic of The Washington Post. He wrote a pointed response to Dare's article, contending that silence should be maintained as a sign of respect both for the musicians and fellow audience members.
And we hear from Kenneth Hamilton, a pianist and author of After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance, which explores 19th-century concert-going, when audiences were more at liberty to talk, eat, cheer and shout in the hall.
Weigh in: Do you prefer the sound of silence at a classical performance? Or should concerts be more interactive, less reverential? How can they appeal to younger audiences?