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Watch: Stravinsky wakes up someone in the audience

November 19, 2017 by norman lebrecht

21 comments.


Firebird, this week, in Redding, California.

Conductor, Scott Seaton.


Comments (21)

  1. Frankster says:

    I imagine that it has happened more than once!

    1. Adam Stern says:

      I’ll vouch for that. It’s also always fun to watch unsuspecting audience members jump out of their seats at the conclusion of Mahler’s Sixth. POW!

      1. PaulD says:

        I remember a performance of this with the NSO under Eschenbach, and the fortissimo hit with such force that I was taken aback – even though I was expecting it. But, I didn’t scream.

  2. Shalom Rackovsky says:

    Or it could be something else. I refer you, dear colleagues, to the story of the Atlanta Symphony touring Florida, the world capitol of hearing aid usage, with the Tchaikovsky 4th. When the 3rd movement ended and the 4th began…..

  3. John Borstlap says:

    There is the story of a photographer – who did not know the piece – who, at a rehearsel led by Stravinsky, was slinking through the back strings as to find the best position for his snapshot, when the first fortissimo of this dance episode hit him as he just had positioned himself right in front of the percussion section. I don’t know how the photo turned out, but the poor man had to be carried away on a stretcher.

  4. Lydia Wahlberg says:

    There is a symphony orchestra in Redding, CA? This is the Trump cowtown that worships Country.

    1. Patrick says:

      Crawl away, Lydia, please. And I’m no fan of Turnip…

    2. Cubs Fan says:

      Cowtown? Really? What a bigot you are. I live in a so-called cowtown. We have a community band and a symphony, too. Yes, we have country/western bars and we go line dancing. We have real rodeos with real cowboys. Had a great rodeo last night. And a nice performance of Beethoven 9th today. Hateful leftist bigot.

    3. Steve P says:

      Not really a cow town – you want to experience some Trump-lovin’ country folk head over to Loomis, CA. Great cigar store, too.
      Stravinsky still making folks jump over 100 years later. Bravo!

    4. Scott Seaton says:

      Yes, there is a thriving orchestra in the North State that primarily resides in Chico and Redding, which are 72 miles apart. Like any medium-sized city, there is quite a wide variety of musical interests, not just country 😉

  5. D'arthez says:

    It just shows Americans lack of culture.

    1. Patrick says:

      Naw, we got culture AND we got apostrophes, too.

      1. D'arthez says:

        You Americans don’t know any foreign language, so avoid making this kind of remarks.

        1. Patrick says:

          It’s ”these”.

          And you do not know me, where I have studied or taught, and what languages I speak.

          1. D'arthez says:

            You’re very likely an American without culture. Like your fellow citizens.
            It’s such a non-sense to have European classical music performed in the US. For such an uncultivated audience in such a country without history.

    2. Michel Merlin says:

      D’ARTHEZ Mon 20 nov 2017 06:26 « It just shows Americans lack of culture »
      You are just helping propagate another Goebbels’ style lie (“A lie, 100-time repeated, IS a truth”). Americans have long been (and probably still are) way above Europeans in culture, education, civility. Their only failure is their inability to lie, hence to reply to trained liars.
      About culture, people make comparisons like an US Mid-West peasant with a French scientist, so of course the French wins. But if you compare an US peasant with a French peasant, or an US scientist with a French scientist, then there is no doubt at all, the French in average is so far under that he often gets unable to grasp the difference (said Darwin: Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge).

      Also traditional American (and formerly English) people are very modest, up to remaining most of the time in a self-derision mode; but in such moments, many French, instead of thanking for their humility and friendliness, jump on them (posturing as) taking them for ignorant or stupid.

      Now for languages, when (in a trade show or business meeting) it takes me a couple minutes before noticing a very nice and educated person is NOT a native French speaker, most often he/she is American, or sometimes Italian. When an American is NOT able to speak perfect French, he doesn’t posture as knowing, instead he (rightfully) assumes it is more efficient (hence more friendly and polite) for each one to speak in his own language and to hear the other in his. In addition France is 10x smaller (in economics, science, politics) than USA and 6000 km East. If you take a country 10x smaller than France and 6000 km East, e.g. Afghanistan, do you think French people speak Afghan better than American speak French? Meanwhile a Polish or Russian, or even a German, will generally be praised to the sky as “speaking fluently a dozen languages” as soon as he is able to put a simple phrase in your language even if full of faults in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation (something an America, or even a French, won’t dare).
      My uncles and grand-father, engineers (as me), worked for decades with English and American fellows (the trend was to universality then) and noticed similar situations.
      Versailles, Wed 29 Nov 2017 17:31:40 +0100

      1. Gerhard says:

        “Their only failure is their inability to lie, hence to reply to trained liars.” Do I understand it correctly that you are talking about the country where Mr. Trump won the last presidential election? That’s quite a new perspective …

  6. Ricardo says:

    My dear late teacher Francisco Comesaña, who played in the first violins of the Madrid RTVE Symphony orchestra told me that he always loved looking at the old people in the front row of the auditorium at that precise moment.

  7. Graeme Hall says:

    Some people do simply react strongly to a sudden sound even if they are expecting it. I often jump (silently!) at the start of the last movement of Beethoven’s Emperor, or indeed this Stravinsky. And as for gunshots in plays and operas….even though I may see a character raise and point the gun, and I know what is going to happen, it will still make me react.

  8. mathias broucek says:

    I once saw Giulini do the Firebird Suite with the Philharmonia. He gave a TINY downbeat for the Infernal Dance and half the audience jumped in the air!

    1. John Borstlap says:

      Giulini was carefull not to loose his baton in a too enthusiastic upbeat as happened to George Szell in 1953, upon which he had to crawl into the audience to find it, holding-up the performance considerably to great irritation of both players and listeners.


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