Brahms – Piano concerto no 1


Brahms first piano concerto was finished between 1854 and 1856, to be premiered that same year. Reactions from the audience were mixed, with a disastrous performance of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester as the worst. In a time of radio and streaming audio, can we still understand the enormous effect music had in the concert hall in the 19th century?

When I read about audience reactions in those days I am amazed with the amount of vitriol in them. In the case of Leipzig, the audience just didn’t clap at all, and started to hiss instead. More famously is the premiere of the Sacre in 1913, when it turned into a riot in the concert hall. A similar thing happened in 1930 in the Muntschouwburg in Brussels, when the riot caused by a performance of the opera La Muette de Portici indirectly led to the Belgian Revolution.

Are we so jaded now that we no longer care? There were tomatoes thrown in concert halls during the Sixties, but what might seem like a national protest was more like a little storm in a teacup. All the musical revolutions in those years did not have the effect a single wrong chord had in the 19th century.

In my country most performances are met with a enthusiastic standing ovation. Even the ones that are actually not that good. Personally I think it would be nice to show your appreciation where it is due, so when you actually feel it. Not when the person in front of you is standing up and you are doing the same because, let’s face it, you don’t want to be the only one still sitting between people towering over you.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *