… and is classical music stuffy simply because no one “dances in the aisles” or boos or hisses? Does this really imply “smugness”? In addition, is stuffiness what results in some people dressing to the nines to attend a concert. Should people dress up for a concert?

It’s been interesting to read thoughts about this from M. Keiser, and then others, at Music in a Suburban Scene on classical music and what he calls stuffiness.

Lynn, from Reflections in d minor says “I ineptly attempt to defend seriousness.” (She’s wrong; she is not inept!) And that brings up another question; is what is seriousness to one person stuffiness to another? Oh … and is this a generational thing? (M. Keiser is a college student, Lynn and I are just slightly older.)

And are we looking for the same sort of reaction to symphonic music as, say, a rock singer wants at his or her live performance?

I’m tossing out these questions. I’m not answering them all right now.

I can tell you that when I’ve worked long and hard on a difficult work I prefer that the audience doesn’t stand through the concert, yelling, singing along, dancing and talking with friends. I’m sorry to disappoint some of you, but I really do want you to listen. Doggone it, I’ve worked hard. If you show up I assume you’ve come to listen. Listening isn’t easy. Many have lost that skill. Rock concerts are different; people go, I think, for the overall experience. They usually already know the songs. The performers seem to encourage singing along. Heck they are so amplified you couldn’t cover them up if you tried. My music? No microphones. No amplifiers. No fireworks (most of the time).

Do I care how you dress? Nope. But do please shower! Actually do that if you go to a rock concert or movie too … I went to a movie a few years back and wound up sitting next to a man that smelled so bad I was nearly gagging. With a smelly neighbor it’s difficult to breathe OR pay attention. Really.

Now I must admit that if you are going to a huge premiere of a “classical something” and paying $200 bucks a ticket, dressing up is probably recommended. That’s just the way it is most of the time. It’s a big shindig. Don’t wear your thongs (the feet kind) t-shirt and jeans.

All in my opinion, of course.


  1. Going to a concert is like going to a movie – the audience should be
    silent and still so you can hear what’s going on.  That doesn’t
    make it stuffy.  Or serious, for that matter.  People laugh
    at a comedy – there’s nothing wrong with laughing during a humorous bit
    of music, too!

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    Hmmm. So people are supposed to be quiet at the movies? 😉

  3. Clearly the aesthetics of popular music concerts are different. 
    The ones I’ve been to have been at small venues (I once got into an
    arena concert and stuck it out for a full two minutes before I couldn’t
    stand it any more) and try to put across the air of a casual gathering
    of friends in a living room.

    That’s fine for that kind of music, but classical music aspires to the
    condition of art.  And one should refrain from talking or
    otherwise distracting behavior during a concert for the same reason
    that one should, in an art museum, refrain from jumping in front of
    other patrons and scribbling over the paintings with crayon. 
    Either way, you’re destroying a work of art, which a good performance
    of classical music is.

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    Thank you for joining the discussion, David.

    (So I suppose if it’s a bad performance you won’t object to booing and talking? The music blogworld had a discussion about this a while back! Did you read those posts?)

    I like silence. But I like silence so much I find it very difficult to go to any concert at all because total silence is impossible. Still, if I expect people to come to concerts in which I am involved, I’d better attend some just to show support for others’ concerts I suppose!

    (I do wish we had something we walked through before entering a hall that would remove all scents from patrons. Perfume and cologne drive me batty at concerts.)