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Letter: Applause that spoils the Proms

Sir: Michael Varcoe-Cocks (letter, 14 August) defends the right of enthusiastic but inexperienced concert-goers to applaud between movements.

The enthusiasm shown by Proms audiences is commendable. However, is it unreasonable to hope that, as well as learning about the music, they will also learn some of the conventions of behaviour which help to prevent distraction and spoil the enjoyment of others? Untimely applause can be just as irritating as rustling sweet papers and beeping digital watches.

I can remember a Proms performance of Weber's "Invitation to the Dance" a few years ago where part of the audience fell into the trap of bursting into applause at the climax of the main waltz theme without waiting for the quiet epilogue to be played; this undoubtedly showed enthusiasm but spoiled the performance for everyone else.

In case I am accused of elitism at the expense of new concert audiences, I should point out that regular attenders who should know better can be even more inconsiderate. I am thinking in particular of the person dubbed by the Promenaders "The Man with the Clap" who applauds loudly and shouts "Bravo" a microsecond after the final bar to show off how well he knows the piece. Fortunately he was missing at this season's performance of "Das Lied von der Erde" when the audience waited in stunned silence for what seemed like an age and only then broke into rapturous applause.


London E1