We sometimes hear patrons say they are uncomfortable about the “rules” of when to applaud (or not) at a concert. The perception that there are rules for attending a concert makes people think classical music is stuffy and pretentious. We don’t want you to see our concerts that way.
The fact is, the “rules” have evolved over time, and they’re really not rules at all. For example Mozart and Brahms expected their audiences to applaud and express their emotions during concerts, and they were concerned when the audience stayed silent. Here’s an excerpt from a letter Mozart wrote to his father after a concert in 1778:
Right in the middle of the First Allegro came a Passage I knew would please, and the entire audience was sent into raptures — there was a big applaudißement; — 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. The Andante was well received as well, but the final Allegro pleased especially — because I had heard that here the final Allegros begin like the first Allegros, namely with all instruments playing and mostly unisono; therefore, I began the movement with just 2 violins playing softly for 8 bars — then suddenly comes a forte — but the audience had, because of the quiet beginning, shushed each other, as I expected they would, and then came the forte — well, hearing it and clapping was one and the same. I was so delighted, I went right after the Sinfonie to the Palais Royale — bought myself an ice cream, prayed a rosary as I had pledged — and went home.
So, by all means, if the spirit moves you during one of our performances, let us know you’re enjoying the music! Like Mozart, we’ll be delighted.