List of classical music with an unruly audience response

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Classical music riot)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

There have been many notable instances of unruly behaviour at classical music concerts, often at the premiere of a new work or production:

  • 1802 (December 18, London): William Reeve, Family Quarrels. Part of the Jewish audience catcalled because of perceived anti-Jewish slights.[1]
  • 1830 (August 25, Brussels): Daniel Auber, La muette de Portici. Audience members at a performance in Brussels left before the end of the opera to join pre-planned riots that were already taking place across the city, marking the beginning of the Belgian Revolution.[2]
  • 1838 (September 10, Paris): Hector Berlioz, Benvenuto Cellini. The audience hissed at most of the music after the first few numbers.[3]
  • 1868 (March 5, Milan): Arrigo Boito, Mefistofele. The audience came predisposed to drown out Boito's claquers and succeeded in making the music inaudible with their hisses and boos.[4][5][6]
  • 1913 (March 9, Rome): Francesco Balilla Pratella, Musica Futurista. At the second performance of the work, the audience booed, threw garbage at the orchestra, and some fighting occurred.[7][8]
  • 1913 (March 31, Vienna): Alban Berg, Altenberg Lieder. As part of a front in Vienna's ongoing style wars, the audience booed and catcalled loudly, and some punches were thrown. The event came to be known as the Skandalkonzert.[9]
  • 1913 (May 29, Paris): Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring. Dueling factions tried to drown each other out during the ballet's premiere, unwittingly launching generations of exaggerations of what actually happened in the hall that night.[10][11]
  • 1913 (September 5, Pavlovsk): Sergei Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 2. The work was met with hisses and catcalls.[12]
  • 1914 (April 21, Milan): Luigi Russolo, three works for intonarumori (The Awakening of a City, The Meeting of Automobiles and Aeroplanes and Dining on the Hotel Terrace). A concert organized by the Futurists to provide the first public demonstration of their experimental "noise-making" instruments called intonarumori resulted in an expected fracas,[13] with Futurists led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti fighting members of the audience in the stalls.[14]
  • 1917 (May 18, Paris): Erik Satie, Parade. One faction of the audience booed, hissed, and was generally unruly, but they were eventually silenced by an enthusiastic ovation.[15][16]
  • 1923 (March 4, New York): Edgard Varèse, Hyperprism. The audience laughed throughout and hissed at the conclusion, which prompted Varèse to repeat the work in hopes of a more serious response.[17]
  • 1924 (June 15, Paris): Erik Satie, Mercure. The police were called to the premiere due to unruly behavior that sprung from the Parisian cultural infighting of the time.[18]
  • 1926 (June 19, Paris): George Antheil, Ballet Mécanique. The premiere performance received a large ovation despite some unruly behavior in the audience, including an outburst by Ezra Pound, but there were some fistfights in the street after the concert.[19]
  • 1926 (November 27, Cologne): Béla Bartók, The Miraculous Mandarin. The plot caused a commotion in the audience, which began leaving during the performance.[20]
  • 1954 (December 2, Paris): Edgard Varèse, Déserts. The audience loudly jeered the piece.[21]
  • 1961 (April 13, Venice): Luigi Nono, Intolleranza 1960. The opera's premiere was disrupted by shouts from a neo-fascist faction in the audience.[22][23]
  • 1968 (December 9, Hamburg): Hans Werner Henze, Das Floß der Medusa. Students hung a Che Guevera banner, the Red, and Black flags causing the chorus to protest, and the police to make arrests, which prompted Henze to cancel the concert.[24]
  • 1973 (January 18, New York): Steve Reich, Four Organs. At a Carnegie Hall performance of the work, the conservative audience tried yelling and sarcastically applauding to hasten the end of the piece, which received both boos and cheers during the ovation.[25]
  • 2006 (December 10, Milan}: Giuseppe Verdi, Aida: When tenor Roberto Alagna's opening aria as Radames was booed by the loggionisti in the opera house's less expensive seats, he walked off stage while the music was still playing. Understudy Antonello Palombi, in a T-shirt and jeans, came on a few seconds later to replace him. Alagna did not return to the production.[26]
  • 2016 (February 29, Cologne): Steve Reich, Piano Phase. During a performance of the piece by Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani in the Kölner Philharmonie, Germany, parts of the crowd started booing, clapping and whistling a few minutes after the concert began. In response to the pandemonium when different factions in the audience yelled each other down, Esfahani stopped his performance and started playing with the ensemble Concerto Köln a concerto by C. P. E. Bach instead. Several members of the remaining audience apologised for the incident after the concert.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chancellor, Valerie E. (2002). "Anti-Racialism or Censorship? The 1802 Jewish Riots at Covent Garden Opera". Opera Quarterly 18 (1): 18–25.
  2. ^ Slatin, Sonia. "Opera and Revolution: La Muette de Portici and the Belgian Revolution of 1830 Revisited", Journal of Musicological Research 3 (1979), 53–54
  3. ^ Wasselin, Christian, "Benvenuto Cellini" on the Hector Berlioz website for a more detailed inside story of the opera
  4. ^ Halperson, Maurice. "The Romance of Music, 56", Musical America, September 8, 1917.
  5. ^ Nicolaisen, Jay. "The First 'Mefistofele'." 19th-Century Music, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Mar., 1978), pp. 221–222.
  6. ^ Kennedy, Michael; Kennedy, Joyce; Rutherford-Johnson, Tim, eds. (2013). "Boito, Arrigo". The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-19-957854-2.
  7. ^ Payton, Rodney J. "The Music of Futurism: Concerts and Polemics", The Musical Quarterly, (1976) LXII (1): 33.
  8. ^ Music of the Twentieth-century Avant-garde: A Biocritical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. 2002.
  9. ^ Barker, Andrew (1997). "Battles of the Mind: Berg and the Cultural Politics of 'Vienna 1900'", The Cambridge Companion to Berg, p. 24. Pople, Anthony, ed. ISBN 0-521-56489-1.
  10. ^ Bullard, Truman (1971). The first performance of Igor Stravinsky's Sacre du printemps. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Ann Arbor University (microfilm copy). OCLC 937514.
  11. ^ Pieter C. van den Toorn, "Stravinsky and The Rite of Spring", Chapter 1: Point of Order
  12. ^ Steinberg, Michael. "Program notes Archived 2016-06-05 at the Wayback Machine.", San Francisco Symphony.
  13. ^ Nice, James. "Music Futurista: The Art of Noises". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  14. ^ Thorn, Benjamin (2002). "Luigi Russolo (1885-1947)". In Larry Sitsky. Music of the Twentieth-century Avant-garde: A Biocritical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-313-29689-5.
  15. ^ Peterkin, Norman. "Erik Satie's 'Parade'", The Musical Times, Vol. 60, No. 918 (Aug. 1, 1919), 426.
  16. ^ "Springtime in Paris: Erik Satie". 2000-03-01. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  17. ^ "Taxi Toots Sound Sweet After Music By Composers Guild: Many Hisses Greet Conclusion of 'Hyperprism'; Dissenters Told to Leave and Piece Is Played Over Again", New-York Tribune, March 5, 1923.
  18. ^ Orledge, "Erik Satie's Ballet Mercure" (1924)
  19. ^ Key, Susan, Larry Rothe, and Thomas M. Tilson. American Mavericks. San Francisco, Calif: San Francisco Symphony, 2001.
  20. ^ Vinton, John (January 1964). "The Case of the Miraculous Mandarin". The Musical Quarterly. L (1): 13. doi:10.1093/mq/L.1.1. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  21. ^ Mattis, Olivia. "Varèse's Multimedia Conception of Déserts", The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), p. 557.
  22. ^ Boyden, Matthew, and Nick Kimberly. The Rough Guide to Opera, Rough Guides, 2002, p. 550.
  23. ^ "Luigi Nono". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  24. ^ Ernst Schnabel, "Zum Untergang einer Uraufführung" and "Postscriptum nach dreiunddreissig Tagen", in Hans Werner Henze and Ernst Schnabel, Das Floss der Medusa: Text zum Oratorium, 47–61 & 65–79 (Munich: Piper-Verlag, 1969);
    Andrew Porter, "Henze: The Raft of the Frigate 'Medusa' – Oratorio" [record review of DGG 139428-9], Gramophone 47, no. 563 (April 1970): 1625;
    Anon. "Affären/Henze: Sie bleibt", Der Spiegel 22, no. 51 (16 December 1968): 152. (in German)
  25. ^ Schonberg, Harold. "Music: A Concert Fuss: Piece by Reich Draws a Vocal Reaction," The New York Times, January 20, 1973.
  26. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (December 13, 2006). "After La Scala Boos, a Tenor Boos Back". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  27. ^ Lizzie Dearden (2016-03-03). "Iranian musician forced to stop Cologne concert after audience members jeer and shout 'speak German'". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-10-28.