Artistes et applaudissements
Artistes et applaudissements

What do artists think about clapping during a concert?

If the audience is the master of clapping, artists have an opinion on the matter as well. Do the claps between movements really bother the musicians, the conductor or the singers?

During a concert, the audience participates in its own way by clapping the musicians, the piece, the conductor or the singers. Sometimes, this clapping occurs between two movements of a symphony or a concerto. A transgression that is considered inappropriate since the beginning of the 20th century.

Among the arguments against clapping between the movement, one is often claimed: a piece shouldn't be split, and artists on stage shouldn't be bothered and able to stay focused. 

To truly give an answer to that (endless) discussion around clapping, musicians, conductors, composers and singers give some parts of the answer. 

Renaud Capuçon, French violinist in Boomerang on France Inter the 28th of January 2016:

"The success of the Philharmonie stands in the renewal of the audience: more than 25% of the crowd didn't go concert before; as the matter of fact they are the ones who clap between movements. Some rise up, but I think it is wonderful. When you hear someone clap between a movement, it means it is somebody who is not used to classical music, and that a new audience has been conquered. If us, classical musicians, say "be careful not to clap", we are going to keep on scaring those people who don't dare coming to concert because there are those idiots who think it is dangerous to clap between movements. Clap between the movements, it has no importance whatsoever!"

Marie-Laure Garnier, soprano (duo Nitescence) at the Folle Journée de Nantes the 5th of February 2016:

"If they are claps between two lieds, it is not tragic. On the contrary, it proves the audience likes the show and encourages us to give and share what we brought with us. However, in a cycle where pieces are supposed to come one after the other rather quickly, claps can disturb our focus and then we must wait for the claps to be over. There is some kind of disruption that happens in those case, and because it is not done voluntarily, it can break an energy that should have been uninterrupted. Artists ask the crowd not to clap, but if we consider the claps are the audience showing its support, then we shouldn't say anything and not hinder people's enthusiasm."

Pierre Boulez, French composer and orchestra conductor in the show Pour le plaisir in 1964:

"During the concerts, he have taken the habit not to clap artists. I found myself writing at some occasions that people don't clap the artist but themselves. They cheer themselves for being a part of a certain musical class and they cheer themselves for seing the reflection of that class in the artist in front of them."

Marin Aslop, American orchestra conductor in an article of The Independant:

"When the music warrants applause – ie at the end of the first movement of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto – I don't mind because it is a spontaneous, emotional, instinctual response. The only time I am disturbed by applause is when it feels perfunctory or obligatory simply because something has concluded – for example at the end of a slow movement of a Mahler symphony."

François Chaplin, French pianist at the Folle Journée de Nantes on the 4th of February 2016:

"Applause between movements doesn't bother me. At the end, it depends on the audience you get... It is maybe more of a problem when you are ending a slow, peaceful movement, that gives off some emotion, where you are in an atmosphere of confidence. But I was not that upset by the applause. The audience can react whenever they feel like it. For example, last night during my concert, people were happy after a nocturne and clapped whereas I should have done three in a row. It is their way to thank you, and, really, it is not that that is going to ruin the music."

Richard Dare, the Brooklyn Philharmonic CEO said in an interview to the Colorado public radio:

"Perhaps it's time to ... simply allow ourselves to react to classical music with our hearts just as we do when we meet other forms of art. Classical music belongs to the audience -- to its listeners, not the critics, to the citizens, not the snobs."

Célia Oneto Bensaid, pianist (duo Nitescence) at the Folle Journée de Nantes on the 5th of February 2016:

"When the audience clap between the movements, it is because people don't know the piece is a whole. For example, in the Funeral March of Chopin, there is a dramaturgy and a continuity in the work. A music movement music is like a chapter of a book, we just have to make people understand that it is only the end of the chapter, and not the end of the book. When I don't want people to clap, I try to avoid it with my posture. I stay very focused, very turned towards myself. You have to succeed in imposing the silence with only your body. If claps come anyway, I do not hesitate to pick up the music during the applause to make the audience understand it is not over yet. I refuse to tell the audience not to clap before a concert because I don't want people to feel as if they were at school."

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