In the midst of a vigorous Twitter colloquium on a thorny matter, the Detroit critic Mark Stryker produced this letter from music director Osip Gabrilowitsch, dated October 1931.
In it, Gabrilowitsch says: ‘It has all the time appeared to me that the demand made just lately by some administrators in Europe, in addition to in New York and some different locations, i.e. that the viewers ought to sit in a cramped place and never dare to breathe for 45 minutes, or to point out any signal of emotion, pleasure appreciation or disapproval, is an unreasonable demand. It isn’t primarily based on any want expressed by the composer himself; quite the opposite, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky in addition to all of their contemporaries, knew very nicely that their symphonies can be carried out with interruptions; they knew there can be applause between the numbers, and they didn’t thoughts it.’
Gabrilowitsch knew what he was speaking about. A buddy of Mahler and Rachmaninov, he noticed nice conductors at work in his profession as a live performance pianist and he emulated them from 1918 as founding director of the Detroit Symphony. Mark his phrases.
The controversy was triggered by this tweet from Samara Ginsberg:
Right here’s one thing you won’t find out about classical musicians: the overwhelming majority of us don’t thoughts in case you clap between actions, and many people adore it. We simply need you to benefit from the live performance and would by no means look down on somebody displaying appreciation.
— Samara Ginsberg (@samaracello) April 10, 2019