BBC Proms 2017: On the subject of clapping

I really should have known better. It’s a conversation I shouldn’t have got embroiled in. And yet I did.

The top line is that I don’t like people clapping in between movements of works, whilst some more official individuals think its perfectly OK because it means that we’re being inclusive.

I am a forgiving chap. I’m also welcoming. I defend people. I advocate. I encourage.

And I have tried. I’ve tried not to get annoyed when people clap after the end of a movement instead of the end of the work. But I struggle.

The reason I get annoyed is because when I listen to, for example, a symphony, I’m listening to a story. The story ends when the work ends. To applaud before the end just feels counter-intuitive.

I’d say that to my best friend (who comes to me for recommendations for classical music concerts) with the same intent another friend stopped me from clapping after the third of Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Thank goodness he did. People around me were engrossed in the performance.

As a listener and an advocate, I don’t demand extensive prior knowledge, just an adherence to a basic principle: wait until the full-stop before you applaud.

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