The Concert Experience

Read this article by my colleague Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim. It’s long past time someone looked at the concert-going experience in classical music from the practical standpoint of what people do during the downtime (this avoids the endless, fruitless theoretical debates over marketing to new audiences).

I could do without intermissions myself, shorter programs are ideal. Of course, some operas are long, but none require massive scenery changes. The length of productions at the Metropolitan Opera is a product of the need to fill a too-big space that has, relatively, too much money to spend. Many of Verdi’s greatest operas, like Rigoletto and Falstaff, have a compact duration and could be done without interruption.

The story of how concert programs and etiquette developed is a long and complicated mix of the rise of the bourgeoisie, the idea of the professional and, in the 20th century, artist management: conductors and soloists fly around the world, appearing in concerts designed for their remuneration. There is no need to have an overture, a concerto, then a symphony on every orchestra program. It’s as tired a formulas the head-solos-head jazz ‘arrangement.’ More like this, which was done without intermission and was meant just to convey great music.


Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.