Idle thoughts while attending a symphony concert

Idle thoughts while attending a symphony concert


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2017

From the New Yorker:

Don’t clap too soon, wait till they’re done, don’t clap too soon, wait till they’re done, don’t clap—

So this is the Symph-Tacular Winter Series.

Four concerts times two seats plus parking equals . . .

Jesus. I could’ve gotten something I wanted.

Cool piece. Read on here.

I bet it annoys them when he’s all, “Play soft, play soft, look at my stick getting very low. now play loud look at my stick way up here!”

If I were in the orchestra, I’d probably roll my eyes when he did that. Just enough so the audience could be, like, “That guy gets it.”

Are they done? Do I clap now?

They’re not done.

The violin section seems to be where you find the most attractive women.

But are they just “orchestra attractive”?

If I were involved with one of the violinists, would I have to learn a lot of stuff about violin? Like, if she asked, “How did I play tonight?,” would I have to have a specific, informed answer? Or could I just say, “Great!”

Or maybe, “Honey, you were awesome, as always. You should totally be first chair. Babe, I know, it’s so political.”


  • John Borstlap says:

    Obviously the thoughts of a middle-aged husband having been dragged to a Mahler concert by his emotion-starved wife.

  • Oded Zehavi says:

    This is one of your best ever !!!!!

  • Tom wardlow says:

    Outrageously ignorant article!

    I lost a measure of respect for the NewYorker, reading it.

    I guarantee you, he couldn’t play timpani like that if he studied five years, or ten years.

    So, the New Yorker plays to the low-brow? What a statement for all of us.

    • Daniel F. says:

      The piece is intended as a “satire”, Tom. The author and anyone reading it KNOWS that it takes years to master the timpani but not the guy who is brainstorming through the music without listening to, or caring about, anything apart from what’s going on in his own brain (such as it is). Probably pretty close to at least half the subscribers to the series if the truth be told.

      • Tom wardlow says:

        To call it satire is charitable.. Perhaps I didn’t get it, and still don’t. Even considering satire, I don’t find it humorous.

        I enjoy satire, even about music, classical music, and percussion, specifically.

        I hate to be an old grouch, but I find this humorless, heavy-handed, and particular low-brow.

        My wife showed me, just 2-3 days ago a New Yorker cartoon from 10/24/13, of a baseball catcher in full regalia advising a Symphony Conductor in front of his orchestra, “They’ll be expecting adagio. Go with allegro.”

        That’s humor!

        [Thanks for your reply.]

        • David Osborne says:

          Yes Tom, you are a bit of an old grouch, (aren’t all of us here most of the time) but I agree, the baseball cartoon is very funny. Thanks for sharing it!

        • David says:

          Well, I’m not sure you really understand satire or the New Yorker. At the bottom of the article is clearly states satire.

          Lighten up. Music is for everyone, guys with fantasy football leagues and pedantic snobs.

  • V.Lind says:

    Reminds me of my reaction to…oh, I’d better not say.

  • William Safford says:

    Part of me got a good chuckle out of it. Part of me kept wanting to correct him. Laughing at myself for the latter impulse.