Frequently Asked Questions

What is classical music?

Generally speaking, classical music can be defined as the style of art music of any culture as distinguished from folk or popular music or jazz.  More narrowly, it has traditionally been considered European music of the classical period, composed from 1750 to 1825.  Typically that definition is exemplified in works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.  Also, classical music is a genre of music conforming to an established form and appealing to critical interest and developed musical taste.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines classical as music in the educated European tradition that includes forms such as the art song, chamber music, opera, and symphony. 

What do you wear to a concert?

Wear what is both comfortable and special to a concert.  Remember, the musicians will be presenting pieces they have been preparing for months and they will likely wear formal dress.  Reflect their musical effort in the care you take in dressing yourself.

When do you arrive for the concert?

Arrive enough in advance that you can obtain a program, find your seat and sense the excitement in the hall.

When do you applaud?

When you see the conductor come onto the stage, it is time to applaud.  When he taps his baton, the music will begin and it is important then to cease talking and shuffling your program.  Often pieces are composed in several sections.  Applause is appropriate at the end of a complete work.  For example, a sonata is made up of several movements, with names like ‘Allegro’, ‘Adagio’, or ‘Presto’.  Wait until the end of the last movement of the sonata to clap. 

Should children attend concerts?

Children will best enjoy concerts in the company of their parents, a teacher or another adult who can set an example in the conventions of witnessing classical music and explain details about the musical program. For grown-ups and children both, there is nothing more awe-inspiring than hearing a live musical performance.

How long are the concerts?

Concerts are generally in the vicinity of two hours in length but programs of longer works may approach three hours. In addition there is a fifteen minute intermission.

What must I do during the concert?

First, stay as quiet as possible. That means for everyone, turn off your pager or cell phone. Next, listen carefully. Finally, if there is an intermission, make sure to return to your seat before the second half of the concert begins. During the intermission, stretch your legs, visit the foyer or rest rooms.

Who is the Concertmaster?

The first violinist of an orchestra. He or she is entrusted with violin solo passages, represents the orchestra in negotiations with the management and conductor, and occasionally substitutes for the latter.*

What are “bowings”?

Bowings are techniques of using the bow on stringed instruments. The mastery of the bow includes a considerable number of different manners of bowing (e.g. plain bowing, detaché, martelé, sautillé, jeté, among others).

What does a cappella mean?

A cappella is a designation for vocal music without instrument accompaniment, whether sacred or secular. Originally a cappella referred to unaccompanied music like that written by Palestrina, an Italian composer of the 16th century.

Why is a piano called a piano?

The piano, a stringed instrument whose strings are struck by hammers activated by keys, was originally called a pianoforte, Italian meaning ‘soft-loud’, because in contrast to the earlier harpsichord the loudness of its sound could be varied by the touch of the fingers. The name has been shorted to piano.

*Definitions herein rely upon the authority of the Harvard Dictionary of Music, Willi Apel, Editor, 1973.