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Classical 101

Are Classical Music Listeners Snobs? or Is It Just the Critics?

Would someone please hand me the smelling salts? I've just read a blog post that berates a classical music concert-goer for giving the performers props. Tom Service, a writer for The Guardian's classical music blog, writes about the final concert in the London residency of Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic: "A moment of dizzying collective rapture [...] was all too predictably ruined by some eejit in the Royal Festival Hall shouting "bravi!" –- from one of the boxes, I'm pretty sure -– before any of us, including the orchestra, had the chance to come down to earth again. There is no greater musical violence an audience member can commit than to scar this unique moment, when time seems to stop still at the end of a great performance, with a selfish, solo shout." My, my, my. Those of you who've read my work on this blog and elsewhere know that I tend not to get polemical, but on this issue, small though in one sense it may be, I must take a stand. The issue is small in that it really does begin and end with one person, namely Service. But it is large in that Service's blog post is not only curmudgeonly ("eejit"?), but also smacks of the kind of overindulgence that many who are intimidated by classical music seem to think all its supporters expect. And as for the use of the plural "bravi," since when is it a bad thing to be correct? The audience member who shouted it did not, as far as Service's report suggests, shout, "Bravi!" And for those of you poor souls in the upper balcony seats who don't know, that's the plural of "bravo." Sounds like whoever cried "bravi" at the end of the Berlin Philharmonic's concert was truly overjoyed by the music. In an age in which we are bombarded with the message that classical music is moribund, if not, dead, shouldn't the classical music community roll out the red carpet for those whose enthusiasm for live classical performances bubbles over? Shouldn't we thank our lucky stars that there are people like that. The next time you go to a classical music performance, if you love what you hear, say so  - however and whenever you want. It's a nice thing to do. If you agree, write the word "bravi" in a comment to this post. I and my entourage (plural, get it?) will thank you.