100,000 readers want concert rules to change

Baldur Brönimann’s ten proposals for changing classical music, which we flagged up at the weekend, has been read by 97,000 people and rising.

That’s a significant body of people who have declared an interest in change. They may not agree with all of Baldur’s the points, but they don’t want things to carry in the way they are. Emptying halls. No new faces. Stiff conduct. No surprises.

Baldur’s right. Let’s start a movement for change.

Click here to read his latest thoughts on the swelling response.

Concert halls shouldn’t become purified spaces where of presenting safe music is presented in a safe environment. Danger, risk, surprise and challenge should be at the heart of artistic experience.

Can’t quarrel with that.

baldur bronniman


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  • I’m not in favor of any of these changes, but rather for education. An educated public is a polite and cultured public who has a shared interest and respect for the fine arts. Bowing down to hipster utopia visions of what concerts should look like will only degrade the art form. This whole started in the 90’s when performers started wearing blue jeans on stage in an attempt to “connect” with the audience. When we stop having standards for both the performers and the audience, the art suffers in the end.

    • Perfect remark. If we throw away what makes music music, we kill it, not save it. If people come not because of what makes classical music great but of what makes pop and rock good for them, we kill the whole classical scene.

      They want to push away the old true lovers in favour of people who need “stimulus”. When they go back to pop (because they will), classical music dies.

      Education is the only solution. They have to learn what is amazing in classical music.

  • Come on: reading doesn’t mean agreeing.

    ” Danger, risk, surprise and challenge should be at the heart of artistic experience.” Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more! But let’s not think that permitting behaviour which reduces the audience’s ability to concentrate fully on the music is any way to achieve those attributes.

    • I fully agree with Will Duffay on this matter. I see no reason why “risk” need be construed as incompatible with a “purified” experience of music.

      • “Come on: reading doesn’t mean agreeing.”

        Mr. Lebrecht knows that. Believe me: he knows. It’s only sensationalism.

  • 97, 000 people clicked on the article. But how many of them actually read the whole thing? And how does this translate into 100,00 having declared an interest in change?

    “In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.”

    ― David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

  • Lots of people read the page; that doesn’t mean they’re in favour of change.

    Personally I see change as a good thing, but nearly all of these proposals is far to generalized and would only work in certain venues anyway. Yo say ‘let’s start a movement for change’ but what kind of change? In whose venues, with which orchestras? And a full blown changing of ten things at once or perhaps trialing something (such as a few concerts you’re allowed to film on your smartphone) for a month, then getting feedback from audience and performers alike?

    I’ve already mentioned about someone who nearly had a drink dropped on her head during a concert. Now that certainly spoils the concert…

  • I don’t see many good suggestions among the 10. Except maybe prop. 4, “less predictable programs”, which goes imo with prop. 10 (“more contemporary music”). But since less predictable means accepting that a good concert might not mean sold out hall, I don’t see things changing that way.

    All the rest would just add disturbances to the concerts, and therefore making it a less exceptional moment, which is certainly not what it needs.

    By the way, there are works during which some audiences applaud between every movement, mainly operas in many houses and festivals. And this is just a mundane behaviour that most people who come for the music just find really annoying.

  • That any number of people have seen that article tells us exactly nothing about how many agree with anything in it. At best, that’s an unsupported leap; at worst, a deliberate misrepresentation.

  • Total rubbish! I read it. I do not agree. If reading something now is placing a vote behind the thrust of the article, we’re all in BIG trouble.

  • I agree, this is rubbish. I read the article and do not agree. Why doesn’t Mr. Lebrecht start a survey instead?
    I also think that these suggested “changes” are hogwash and third rate relevant. What actually matters is great music making. And then comes great music making. After which comes great music making. To inspire an audience, to light them on fire you need a fire and an audience that can burn, it takes two to tango… If we follow the suggested changes, we get an audience that is a bunch of bricks that never can burn…

  • I cannot agree with allowing cell phones on during a symphonic or chamber music performance. The bright lights (in a dark hall) from these things are hugely annoying visual distractions. Also, texting creates noises that can be heard during quieter pieces. If people bought tickets to hear music, that’s exactly what they should do.

  • “Baldur Brönimann’s ten proposals for changing classical music, which we flagged up at the weekend, has been read by 97,000 people and rising.
    That’s a significant body of people who have declared an interest in change.”

    Er, how do you work that one out?

  • Let’s not fool ourselves. There are no substitutes for quality music education. Halls are not empty because one cannot use a mobile inside or because musicians wear this or that. As for programmes, newcomers have to listen to Beethoven’s 5th as well as modern music. They should be as varied as society itself.

    • I totally agree about quality music education. But harping on on that theme is a just a total waste of time. We know that governments are just not going to make this happen in our lifetimes. So why keep bringing it up?

      It seems that the majority of posters here are split into two camps: those who advocate no change in concert formats and those who advocate greater music education. With respect to all, neither will happen. Change will come, like it or not. The financial pressures on orchestras and on society as a whole will make this essential. If the world comes out of the recession faster than expected and incomes rise, perhaps changes will be delayed. But they will come.

  • I think it’s incredibly misleading to claim that 100,000 people agree with the “10 things” article. Readers do not mean agreement (as has been stated in these comments before, @Will and David), and it also does not mean that there are 100,000 unique people reading the article. If anyone visited the site twice, it would count as 2 visits. Saying that “100,000 readers want concert rules to change” is not provocative–it’s wrong.

    While I agree that things can (and perhaps should) change and adapt in the concert hall, I think it is much more important that the decisions and directions of the future of classical music are based on actual data, not made-up numbers and skewed statistics. Fact checking is a good thing.

  • If anything, those of us who are *against* the informalisation and bastardisation of concerts are the most assiduous in reading the various agendas for change that get promulgated at a rate faster than rabbits breed, in order that we remain informed about that with which we disagree. Those who attend performances of The Death of Klinghoffer are *not* necessarily endorsing the murder of the title character. We may be labelled as “grumpy old men” (although many of us are younger than Brönniman), but we are certainly not ignorant.

    Conversely, the naïveté of some of the suggestions I read makes me wonder whether some of these agitators for change have actually made the effort to reflect on why things are the way they currently are: they may find that it is not nearly so arbitrary as they like to think (having said that, we should be wary of taking an over-teleological perspective). Or maybe some of them are attention-seeking charlatans who are hoping to secure a cosy CEO position with associated salary (it seems to do the trick — just look at the high standards of orchestral management in Paris, Vienna, Minneapolis, and Atlanta! [sarcasm alert])…

  • I agree with those who think this is mostly rubbish.

    Don’t we have enough problems with mobile phones already? Despite warnings to shut of mobiles before every concert, some “ass hat” always gets a call right in the softest part of every piece.

    And what serious listener wants some moron next to them texting and checking their phone all through the concert?

    With all the trends toward authentic performance practices, why shouldn’t we wear clothes that were elegant in the 1800’s? not to mention the fred astaire revivals?

    call me an old fogey, but why don’t people just educate themselves more and just enjoy the concert?

  • I dare any orchestra do do a whole season built on these ten new recommendations. Let’s see if all those people who haven’t come to concerts because they couldn’t bring in a glass of wine (or popcorn and soda?) start to buy tickets and fill all those empty seats. This is probably the 50th article I’ve seen like this, and they always stir up a big discussion, but what do we know about what orchestras are doing to stir up some change and — most importantly — whether any of it is working.

  • As many others have pointed out, the idea that it’s possible to conclude, simply on the basis of a large number of people having read Brönniman’s ideas, that an equally large number endorse them is totally ridiculous.

  • “Danger, risk, surprise and challenge should be at the heart of artistic experience.”

    Sounds like the average orchestra player’s experience – they court danger just by taking the horn out of the case.

  • The headline on this is a perfect example of the difference between a journalist who might exaggerate to sell copy and one who is untrustworthy and advancing an agenda. There have been too many examples of this sort of this to take this blog seriously. Sensationalism is not the same as lying, and it’s a symptom of our age, but when you insist that 100,000 people support the views of mr Bronniman because they clicked, you are clearly trying to wag the dog.

  • Few nights ago Arkadij Volodos gave a splendid recital here in Zagreb. In the middle of Schumann’s Fantasia a girl in the row in front of me, five seats on the rights, took out her smart phone, one of those with large screen, put it in her lap and began to text, or whatever she was doing. Even without looking at her direction the light was so distracting, annoying and irritating. Then I thoughts of those ten proposals and imagined hundreds of phones and tablets glowing around, being raised in the air to get a snap shot or recording… No, thanks. That would definitely turn much more people away from concert halls than attracting new “music lovers”. No, thanks.

  • I agree completely! It’s similar to experiences i’ve had at the Met opera, where really casual yuppie retirees would pull out the iPad at the very start of intermission (sometimes before the applause dies) to check the sports scores and the stock market closing figures. NO THANKS!

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