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A Few More Thoughts on Applause: Why Can We Interrupt at the Met?

I have been having a wonderful time going to hear opera – this year at the Met, the thrill of an unforgettable Tristan and Isolde, a beautiful – and new to me – Thais by Massenet, and a deeply touching Eugene Onegin. During the Tchaikovsky I realized that the audience expectation and behavior is the complete opposite of what we are used to in the concert hall. At the end of virtually every aria, there was wild applause, which often had little to do with the actual action on stage and certainly no connection to the story line.

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Disney Hall

It is a real challenge for anything that is awaited with great anticipation to actually live up to the excitement. After the thrill of performing in the new Disney Hall, I can only say that for me, it has surpassed all my expectations. In the most exhilarating way, it inspires awe without forcing us to be reverent.

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When to Applaud

All of us love applause, and so we should – it means that the listener LIKES us! So we should welcome applause whenever it comes. And yet, we seem to have set up some very arcane rules as to when it is actually OK to applaud. I have been trying to find out exactly when certain listeners and performers decided that applause between movements would not be “allowed”, or at least would be frowned upon, but nobody seems to have been willing to admit that they were the culprit.

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Next Concerts

    October 20, 2018

    Duke Performances

    Baldwin Auditorium

    Durham, NC

    BACH: Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV 825
    SCHOENBERG: Six Little Piano Pieces, op. 19
    SCHUMANN: Fantasiestücke, op. 12
    RAVEL: Valses nobles et sentimentales
    CHOPIN: Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante, op. 22
    CHOPIN: Three Mazurkas, op. 59

    October 23, 2018

    Charleston Gaillard Center

    Gaillard Center

    Charleston, SC


    October 25, 2018

    Civic Music Association of Des Moines

    Sheslow Auditorium

    Des Moines, IA

    BACH: Partita No. 1 in B flat
    SCHOENBERG: Piano Pieces Op. 19
    SCHUMANN: Fantasiestuecke
    RAVEL: Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
    CHOPIN: 3 Mazurkas, Andante Spianato

    October 28, 2018

    Celebrity Series of Boston

    Symphony Hall

    Boston, MA

    BACH: Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, BWV825
    SCHOENBERG: Six Little Piano Pieces, Opus 19
    SCHUMANN: Fantasiestücke, Opus 12
    RAVEL: Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
    CHOPIN: Mazurkas TBD
    CHOPIN: Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise Brillante, Opus 22

    November 3, 2018

    New World Symphony

    Adrienne Arsht Center

    Miami, FL

    WAGNER: Overture to The Flying Dutchman
    BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1
    SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5

    November 9, 2018

    Detroit Symphony

    Orchestra Hall

    Detroit, MI

    BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1
    NORMAN: Play

    November 10, 2018

    Detroit Symphony

    Orchestra Hall

    Detroit, MI

    BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1
    NORMAN: Play

    November 15, 2018

    The Cleveland Orchestra

    Severance Hall

    Cleveland, OH

    KABELÁČ – Mystery of Time
    STRAVINSKY – Capriccio (for piano and orchestra)
    SHOSTAKOVICH – Symphony No. 5

NY Philharmonic

Artist-in-Residence: Emanuel Ax 2012/13.
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Audio Player

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4
Brahms: Music For 2 Pianos
Haydn: Piano Sonatas
Liszt: Piano Sonata in B Minor
Mendelssohn: Piano Trios
Strauss: Enoch Arden


Video Player

Extract from masterclass given by Emanuel Ax on Beethoven Piano Sonatas and Variations. The student is Nicolas Van Poucke. The full masterclass is available on DVD from