Performances–and Audiences–Through the Ages

Reviewing The Cambridge History of Musical Performance in the Wall Street Journal, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim explores the meaning of “authentic” musical performances. Particularly amusing, however, was this bit of social history on musical audiences:

Modern concertgoers, forever fretful of marring a sublime performance with misplaced applause or a chirping cellphone, may be relieved to read in the book about a late 18th-century Viennese traveler who noted with astonishment that music audiences in northern Germany were “content with the pure enjoyment of the music, without wishing to have the pleasures of card playing, eating and drinking in addition. There you would think you showed both the music lovers and professional musicians a discourtesy and dishonored the music, if you rattled playing chips and hot chocolate cups throughout.”

You can read the rest of the review here.