Piano World Home Page
The scene – the Wigmore Hall on a warm October evening. The concert – Sir Andras Schiff playing three Schubert sonatas, on his Franz Brodmann piano of c. 1820. Two and a half hours of magical, thoughtful and sensitive playing. At the close of the final sonata Schiff sat motionless, indicating silence – which was rudely broken by a loud cough from the front right of the hall. Schiff glared at the offender, and gave a little bow in his direction. The silence having been concluded so abruptly, Schiff stood up to receive his ovation; he bowed to the audience, turned to his right to bow again to the people on that side, then turned to his left, and gave a deep and pointed bow straight to the cougher. Not a word was spoken, but the message was crystal clear: “Thank you so much for finishing my concert for me. We are all deeply in your debt.”
I find Schiff's behavior extreme. Sometimes it's very hard or impossible to hold a cough in. In this case the cougher at least held his cough in until the piece was over but not until Schiff had put his hands down in his lap or otherwise indicated applause was OK. Definitely not a perfect ending to a serious program of three sonatas but it's very common to hear a lot of coughing at the end of a piece because audience members have been holding in coughs.

Since I don't think any of the Schubert Sonatas end with a slow movement, I'm not sure why Schiff would insist on waiting some time before "ending" his playing. This would more typically be done qt the end of slow pieces.

I think Schiff is a terrific pianist but in master classes he can be quite cruel. I have observed this in person at least twice. This wasn't a master class and almost all professional pianists have big egos, but I'm not convinced Schiff was in the right. OTOH I wasn't there so you may have greater insight to the nuances of what happened.
If Schiff is "cruel" in his master classes he has no business conducting them. There is no excuse for that type of behavior.

As for the offending person in the first row, at least he didn't get up and exit the auditorium during the performance. That would have been a far greater distraction for the audience and the artist.
Although a supreme pianist, and probably ultimately a nice person, our friend Schiff is not blessed with the best bedside manner.

In other words he's well up his own behind. A rather dodgy personality, in my opinion. But who knows, behind closed doors we don't know people, so he might not really be like that.
No, no, in this case the cough was absolutely crass and unnecessary, and destroyed the ending of the concert. Schiff was absolutely right and I was glad that he reacted as he did. I have suffered from coughs, and no-one can tell me that this person could not have contained his cough for another 15 seconds, which was all that would have been necessary. Also it was clear from the nature of the cough that it was not uncontrollable.

And it is irrelevant whether the final movement was slow or fast. A two and a half hour programme of intense concentration and sublimity needs a silence to conclude it.
Originally Posted by David-G
No, no, in this case the cough was absolutely crass and unnecessary, and destroyed the ending of the concert. Schiff was absolutely right and I was glad that he reacted as he did. I have suffered from coughs, and no-one can tell me that this person could not have contained his cough for another 15 seconds, which was all that would have been necessary. Also it was clear from the nature of the cough that it was not uncontrollable.

And it is irrelevant whether the final movement was slow or fast. A two and a half hour programme of intense concentration and sublimity needs a silence to conclude it.

In retrospect I agree with your second paragraph but not the part of your first paragraph where you are sure that the cougher could have contained his cough. I have a chronic cough and when the urge occurs there is no way I can delay it for a second. What the cougher should have done was try and muffle his cough. It's also possible that my highly negative experiences observing Schiff's master classes affect my opinion about this incident. I do think he is a fabulous pianist.
Are we really talking about a cough? Something which is a bodily issue, that sometimes cannot be contained? Are we assuming that the person in the first row, could or could not? Did he place his hands in his mouth to contain the sound? Did he try to contain the cough? Or was he, just, completely indifferent to the ending that Schiff wanted?

For the record, without caring one bit for egos and names, a concert with LIVE audience can be unpredictable, and certainly is an interactive process between the audience and the performer(s). With that in mind:
a. Schiff should not react like that, as such an issue is to be expected
b. Schiff should react like that as he interacted with the offender.

Take your pick! ^_^
I suffer from terminal flatulence. Is it OK if I sit in the front row of a chamber recital?

With respect to and for pianoloverus, I would hope he/she would choose to be seated at a distance that, when covering his mouth with his sleeve or a handkerchief, the resulting amplitude of the cough would not disturb the artist, or more importantly, the rest of the audience.

I went to Covent Garden (Royal Opera House) some years ago, and the programme said in large letters, Do you know that a single cough can exceed the volume of the entire orchestra playing ff ?
No one knows whether this particular cougher could control the timing of his cough...if it were me, I could not. Could he choose a seat? Maybe or maybe not. Perhaps this is not a chronic cough but more of an acute issue that he could not even anticipate

If Schiff could not refrain from what I see as a childish response, maybe he should skip live recitals. This time it was a cough, Next time it will be an uncontrollable sneeze, and then.,.. something else. Wouldn’t it be great if audiences were perfect? Totally unrealistic.
Originally Posted by prout
I suffer from terminal flatulence. Is it OK if I sit in the front row of a chamber recital?


Surely that's a slippery slope fallacy?

Originally Posted by prout
With respect to and for pianoloverus, I would hope he/she would choose to be seated at a distance that, when covering his mouth with his sleeve or a handkerchief, the resulting amplitude of the cough would not disturb the artist, or more importantly, the rest of the audience.


Assuming they knew they were going to cough, of course. And assuming that when they did cough, they had enough warning to actually cover their mouth, or indeed change his ticket for another seat, get up, and move to the other seat before he had to cough.

I think this depends on the cough, but I would wager that anyone coughing at an inappropriate moment at a classical music gig would most likely not really be in control of that cough, certainly not able to hold it for fifteen seconds longer. Either that or they're doing it on purpose to disrupt the gig.

The shuffling of papers and creaking around in seats, however seems a lot more avoidable.

I think without actually seeing this on video, or witnessing it live, it's very hard to tell.

I also think that Schiff should come down off his self created pedestal and remember that this was a paying customer, and that it was a cough. Now, if it had been someone's phone going off, then that would have been a completely different story. Or if it has been someone who was continuously coughing and refused to leave the arena.

David G - were you at this gig, or is this a story you're relaying from a newspaper etc. - can you enlighten us as to the details?
I would say that Mr. Schiff is in the wrong line of work if he is so intolerant of possibly hundreds of imperfect people who no doubt are paying him very well. Maybe he should stick to recording sessions where he can control a few technicians. This is the kind of arrogant attitude that turns people off from classical music.
He should be ashamed of himself, ridiculous.
IMO and experience, there would a lot less coughing if perfume and cologne were banned from indoor concerts. I can be in perfect health, happily seated, waiting for the concert to begin and to my dismay, someone sits down near me billowing clouds of heavy perfume in every direction. I'm sure they think they smell great. Ugh. Within minutes, I get an unstoppable drip down the back of my throat. Coughing is inevitable. This olfactory attack means I can either cough, ask for a seat change or take an antihistamine. I think heavy scents should be banned!
Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
This is the kind of arrogant attitude that turns people off from classical music.
He should be ashamed of himself, ridiculous.


Well said.
I am firmly on the side of David-G, but not so much over the coughing, which would have totally destroyed the transcendent mood created by a consummate artist, but with people’s judgement of Schiff’s behaviour.

You paid your money, you got your concert, you experienced something that very few people in the world have experienced. If he blew raspberries at the entire audience, or mooned them after the concert ended, who are we to judge? He has been playing public concerts for over 40 years. Not all artists behave this way, but those who do and produce this level of music should be accomodated. Did he cause harm to anyone by ‘glaring’?

Really, people. Get a life. And gooddog, YES, people should be banned from wearing scented products when attending comcerts or lessons. Many of the concerts I attend and the buildings in which they are held are posted as scent free zones. My wife refuses to teach anyone who wears perfume. She is a professional singer.
It's a cough. Doubt it was deliberate and it happens all the time at live concerts. Perhaps the person may have been able to contain it, perhaps not. It's not the greatest of crimes. . . . . a mobile phone on the other hand. At least in that case you do have total control, long before the concert starts.
My take is that the guy should not have been blamed for coughing, and simultaneously, Schiff should be allowed to do whatever he wants on the stage.

If people no longer want to pay to see Schiff because of his rather pompous character then he'll find his concert halls empty, but if people want to continue to see him, then he'll find his concert halls full, and ditto his bank balance. Which, judging from his turnouts appears to be the case.

As far as the perfume thing is concerned, I'm not sure where I stand on that. It raises the question, what is a heavy scent? For example if I had a shower with some scented soap? Or is it actually that some scents contain chemicals that some people are allergic to? Not being a particular scent-wearer, I wouldn't know.

Also, what if someone has chronic body odour, which they can't help? Would it be preferable for them to cover it up with a heavy scent or would it be preferable for them to emit body odour? Or should they just be banned from the gig outright?

Talk of "banning" people because they are wearing a "scented product" worries me a bit. Who judges whether the product is scented, and how would they enforce the ban? Also, would the person get their ticket money back? Does this include deodorant and soap, which are scented? Or is it a specific thing to do with certain chemicals found in spray perfumes?

Also, I agree with the phone thing. A cough is not the person's fault, however, failing to turn your phone off is. And so I consider mobile phones going off to be rude.

I suspect everyone has a different opinion on this, as it is highly subjective.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
If people no longer want to pay to see Schiff because of his rather pompous character then he'll find his concert halls empty, but if people want to continue to see him, then he'll find his concert halls full, and ditto his bank balance. Which, judging from his turnouts appears to be the case.
That’s a good way of putting it. People vote with their feet.

I like people who are critical and brash. I always know where they stand on issues and know they are not dissembling when interacting with me. If I had been that person who coughed, I would have been very upset with myself and understanding of Schiff’s reaction.

Quote
As far as the perfume thing is concerned, I'm not sure where I stand on that. It raises the question, what is a heavy scent? For example if I had a shower with some scented soap? Or is it actually that some scents contain chemicals that some people are allergic to? Not being a particular scent-wearer, I wouldn't know.
Why should anyone use scented soaps, deodorants and shampoos and such-like products. They are all available now in unscented versions and do the same job. The scent has no function. This is not 17th C France where bathing was costly, not available to most people, and where there was a widespread belief that immersion in warm water was bad for you.
So now we should be required to use certain kinds of soap, deodorant etc to attend a concert. Will classical concerts get any more exclusive?

Originally Posted by prout
Quote
As far as the perfume thing is concerned, I'm not sure where I stand on that. It raises the question, what is a heavy scent? For example if I had a shower with some scented soap? Or is it actually that some scents contain chemicals that some people are allergic to? Not being a particular scent-wearer, I wouldn't know.
Why should anyone use scented soaps, deodorants and shampoos and such-like products. They are all available now in unscented versions and do the same job. The scent has no function. This is not 17th C France where bathing was costly, not available to most people, and where there was a widespread belief that immersion in warm water was bad for you.

Exactly. I choose not to use scented products. Generally, I'm okay when someone has used light fragrance. My mother once told me, no one should be able to smell your perfume unless they are kissing your neck. (She was a funny lady but very considerate of others). My allergies only flair up when the scent is very strong, such as someone has washed their clothes in fragrant detergent or has splashed on large quantities of perfume or heavily scented lotion and I am unable to get away from them. I know I'm not alone in my sensitivity to fragrance. I've entered schools and offices that have signs asking people to refrain from using scented products out of consideration for people with allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions. There is no reason a concert hall can't suggest the same. Recently, I was sitting in the living room at a friend's house. A new guest arrived and I could smell her perfume from 15 feet away, (no exaggeration). Gag. It permeated the entire house for the duration of her visit. It wasn't a bad scent, it was just too strong and pervasive.

More on my peeve: Have you ever tried on new clothes that are permeated with someone else's fragrance? How selfish to wear perfume while trying on clothes. Or have you had your hands reek from perfume after holding the handle of a shopping cart? It's disgusting.
w
Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
So now we should be required to use certain kinds of soap, deodorant etc to attend a concert. Will classical concerts get any more exclusive?
Many public schools do not allow peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Could they get any more exclusive?

Remember Roger, You can choose to not go to the concert. It might make you, and the rest of the audience happier.
Originally Posted by prout
Many public schools do not allow peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Could they get any more exclusive?


Quite obviously because of peanut allergies. Which can result in death, for example if kids swap sandwiches. A far cry from people wanting to ban things because it offends them.

Originally Posted by prout

Remember Roger, You can choose to not go to the concert. It might make you, and the rest of the audience happier.


Oh you're a real charmer aren't you.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
[quote=prout] Quite obviously because of peanut allergies. Which can result in death, for example if kids swap sandwiches. A far cry from people wanting to ban things because it offends them.
.

I don't appreciate having my physical reaction to perfumes being reduced to my merely finding them "offensive". They really do make me sick. I won't go into all the symptoms, but besides the cough, there is also the instant headache and vertigo. It would be a simple thing to post a sign that encourages moderation and raises awareness. Scent allergies and respiratory problems are quite common.

Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
I would say that Mr. Schiff is in the wrong line of work if he is so intolerant of possibly hundreds of imperfect people who no doubt are paying him very well. Maybe he should stick to recording sessions where he can control a few technicians. This is the kind of arrogant attitude that turns people off from classical music.
He should be ashamed of himself, ridiculous.

You weren't there. I was. The cough was crass.

Originally Posted by Nikolas
Are we really talking about a cough? Something which is a bodily issue, that sometimes cannot be contained? Are we assuming that the person in the first row, could or could not? Did he place his hands in his mouth to contain the sound? Did he try to contain the cough? Or was he, just, completely indifferent to the ending that Schiff wanted?

Precisely. It was a voluntary cough, not involuntary, not the slightest effort to contain it, totally indifferent to the transcendent ending.

Originally Posted by prout
If I had been that person who coughed, I would have been very upset with myself and understanding of Schiff’s reaction.

Exactly. I would have been mortified, and felt entirely deserving of Schiff's censure.
Perhaps I can add a little anecdote which bears on this discussion. A few years ago I attended a lovely lunchtime concert at St Luke's - a fortepiano recital played by Ronald Brautigam of music composed in London in the 1790s, by Cramer, Clementi, Field and Haydn. For those that don't know it, St Luke's is an eighteenth century church which was bombed in the War and restored as a beautiful modern rehearsal space. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. I arrived early and chose the perfect seat - in the front row towards the right. Because that is where the piano sounds best, the radio microphone was placed similarly and was only a few feet from me.

During the previous week I had had a cold; it had turned to a cough, which I was nearly over. I thought I should be able to last the hour without coughing, and took all the medication which might help, just to be on the safe side. All was well for the first twenty five minutes. Then I was aware of a little tickle at the back of my throat, which soon became an overwhelming urge to cough. But I could hardly do so, sitting just feet from the radio microphones. So with enormous effort I contained it and just did not cough. After two or three minutes' inward struggle the urge passed away and I could enjoy the rest of the concert in peace.

Originally Posted by Roger Ransom
So now we should be required to use certain kinds of soap, deodorant etc to attend a concert. Will classical concerts get any more exclusive?
I think the issue we are discussing has morphed into a larger concept - that of consideration of others rather than consideration of self. Our societies around the world seem to be moving toward a conservative - everyone for him/her self attitude - I can pollute if I want to. - I can play my music outdoors at earsplitting volume in my neighbourhood if I want to. - and so on.

Back to topic at hand though - I know there things we as humans do that are beyond our control, but we can at least recognize that what we do may not be percieved by others as welcome, and we should should accept censure.
Originally Posted by David-G

You weren't there. I was. The cough was crass.


See you failed to mention this in your initial post, and I think we've all been thinking of an involuntary cough.

Is there by any chance a clip of it?

Originally Posted by gooddog

I don't appreciate having my physical reaction to perfumes being reduced to my merely finding them "offensive". They really do make me sick. I won't go into all the symptoms, but besides the cough, there is also the instant headache and vertigo. It would be a simple thing to post a sign that encourages moderation and raises awareness. Scent allergies and respiratory problems are quite common.


I meant "offensive" in the sense that you mean it, it wasn't an attempt at belittlement. The point I was raising was that we can't just ban things because one person is affected by them, otherwise we would live in an incredibly authoritarian society. However, on the other hand, if a reasonably large proportion of people are upset by something, then you have a case for banning it. Such as smoking in public etc. - you can't not ban anything either otherwise you end up with the opposite problem as prout has highlighted in the post above. Both models would be no fun for anyone.

So I guess it depends - what proportion of people are allergic to fragrances? You may have a strong case for all I know.

With both of these, the cough and the fragrance issue, the devil is in the detail.

Just as an aside, a quick Google search will reveal that Schiff has a thing about his audiences coughing, and a history of getting annoyed at it. Rightly so or not? I guess one would have had to be there to judge.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by David-G

You weren't there. I was. The cough was crass.


See you failed to mention this in your initial post, and I think we've all been thinking of an involuntary cough.

Is there by any chance a clip of it?

You are right, with hindsight I can see that I could have been clearer. My feeling was that the person had been waiting until the end of the concert to clear his throat. And he decided that the silence had been long enough, so went right ahead, wrecking the communal silence for everybody else.

Originally Posted by Zaphod
Just as an aside, a quick Google search will reveal that Schiff has a thing about his audiences coughing, and a history of getting annoyed at it. Rightly so or not? I guess one would have had to be there to judge.

The Wigmore audience is usually exemplary. This incident was exceptional. In this concert there was quite a barrage of coughs between movements, and Schiff turned not a hair. There were a few involuntary coughs during the music, but all were quiet and suppressed to some extent. Again this is as one would expect, and there was no indication of annoyance from the artist. But this one at the end was glaring. The mood was ruined for me - and I expect, for many in the audience. I cursed inwardly, and was then glad that our pianist was making his feelings known outwardly.
Originally Posted by David-G
My feeling was that the person had been waiting until the end of the concert to clear his throat. And he decided that the silence had been long enough, so went right ahead, wrecking the communal silence for everybody else.
Or he was holding in a cough and simply couldn't hold it in any longer. I don't see how one can be sure in a situation like this.
Originally Posted by David-G
My feeling was that the person had been waiting until the end of the concert to clear his throat. And he decided that the silence had been long enough, so went right ahead, wrecking the communal silence for everybody else.
Or he was holding in a cough and simply couldn't hold it in any longer. I have personally been in that situation. I don't see how one can be sure in a situation like this.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by David-G
My feeling was that the person had been waiting until the end of the concert to clear his throat. And he decided that the silence had been long enough, so went right ahead, wrecking the communal silence for everybody else.
Or he was holding in a cough and simply couldn't hold it in any longer. I have personally been in that situation. I don't see how one can be sure in a situation like this.

We shall just have to agree to disagree. Of course one can't be sure. But I know what I heard.
Although I wasn't there, it sounds rather like a possibility could have been that the bloke thought "Ok, it's over, I can cough now" and misjudged the situation, literally misjudged it musically. The silence was part of the music, but he didn't realise.
At least it wasn't snoring - a common problem at many opera performances. Nothing like watching Kundry sing in Parsifal, accompanied by a sonority of someone sawing wood - at the Met, no less! shocked
After decades of concert attendance, I am convinced there is such a creature as a "narcissistic cougher". This is a person who, in their everyday life, may be quite used to being the center of attention, and they quite like it. It may be unconscious, but at some level they just can't bear it that the person on stage is getting all the attention, and they cough to have the attention diverted to them for a moment or two.

It wouldn't surprise me if Schiff, after a long career, has had innumerable experiences of having this type of person in his audience, and maybe he's just reached the point where he likes to tweak them a bit when a good opportunity arises.
Originally Posted by prout


Quote
As far as the perfume thing is concerned, I'm not sure where I stand on that. It raises the question, what is a heavy scent? For example if I had a shower with some scented soap? Or is it actually that some scents contain chemicals that some people are allergic to? Not being a particular scent-wearer, I wouldn't know.
Why should anyone use scented soaps, deodorants and shampoos and such-like products. They are all available now in unscented versions and do the same job. The scent has no function. This is not 17th C France where bathing was costly, not available to most people, and where there was a widespread belief that immersion in warm water was bad for you.


For some people, soaps with scent have a function with some similarity to the function of music - it's a matter of esthetic appreciation. I'm thinking quite a lot of people must think that way, since the range of scented soaps is vast. Many such soaps, perhaps most, don't really have much of a scent that lingers on the skin in any noticeable way. The idea is to make bathing pleasant, I think. It's not necessarily about leaving a strong scent after the bath (which might interfere with other scents the person might want to apply later), although there are some that actually are designed to do that.

On a related tangent - years ago Stephen Hough had an active blog at a Brit newspaper site, and I was somewhat surprised to learn from his entries there that he was very much into the world of perfumes and scents, and loved to talk about them. Thinking more about it, I don't know why that would be surprising to me, but it was.
Personally, if I had to side with either, I would side with the performer.

I am a motor racing fan. I have gone to motor race events and set up expensive recording equipement simply to record the sound of the cars. I can guarantee that some cretin will notice it and have to come close and start coughing, sneezing, shouting, even making stupid loud abstract noises... whatever, just to ruin the recording.

It really is extraordinary how others need to exert their ego, even over people they have never met, and when it is quite un-necessary.

Good for Schiff. Long may he behave exactly how he wishes.
Originally Posted by wr
After decades of concert attendance, I am convinced there is such a creature as a "narcissistic cougher". This is a person who, in their everyday life, may be quite used to being the center of attention, and they quite like it. It may be unconscious, but at some level they just can't bear it that the person on stage is getting all the attention, and they cough to have the attention diverted to them for a moment or two.

It wouldn't surprise me if Schiff, after a long career, has had innumerable experiences of having this type of person in his audience, and maybe he's just reached the point where he likes to tweak them a bit when a good opportunity arises.
If the cough was deliberate (on some level), then Schiff gave the cougher exactly what he was after: attention and acknowledgement not just from Schiff, but from the entire audience.

Schiff was the adult in the room. He should have taken the high road and ignored the cougher.
Originally Posted by Stubbie

Schiff was the adult in the room. He should have taken the high road and ignored the cougher.

Yes!

Well obviously I wasn’t at the performance but I find it hard to believe that a concert goer would cough deliberately at the conclusion of the program. Coughs can be impossible to stifle. I found myself climbing over peoples’ legs and could not get out of the concert hall fast enough because I had to cough so badly. Unfortunately, I had to watch the remainder of the concert on a screen from the lobby.

I heard Schiff in recital last year. I don’t remember what he performed but I was put off by his self-reverential attitude. When I looked through my upcoming concert tickets, lo and behold, I bought a ticket to see him again. This time he will be conducting the orchestra from the keyboard to perform Beethoven’s 4th. I will make sure I am properly armed with plenty of cough drops.
Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
his self-reverential attitude.


Yup. That just about sums him up.
An extraordinary amount of anti-Schiff sentiment in this thread. Having spent five hours in two exceptionally fine concerts watching him play Bach and Schubert in recent weeks, and having sat (or stood!) at the front where I could see him closely, it is clear to me that what he reveres is not himself but the music he plays and the composers who wrote it.
Originally Posted by prout
I suffer from terminal flatulence. Is it OK if I sit in the front row of a chamber recital?


Long long ago when I was in high school, we had a violin soloist playing a concert. She came to a rest after an ascending line, and someone continued that line, in tune even. She made a facial expression I still remember, but somehow, nobody cracked up..... ;-)
Originally Posted by David-G
An extraordinary amount of anti-Schiff sentiment in this thread.


It's only anti his personality, not his piano playing, which is the important thing.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by David-G
An extraordinary amount of anti-Schiff sentiment in this thread.


It's only anti his personality, not his piano playing, which is the important thing.


Actually if we were genuinely interested in the music we wouldn't comment on his personality. To describe it as "only anti-personality" could be a cover for many sins.

For example, I checked to see if he was Jewish. Being a good pianist doesn't make him immune to rudeness or incapable of being rude, but then, neither does being bad, which compared to him I'm sure many of us are.
Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by David-G
An extraordinary amount of anti-Schiff sentiment in this thread.


It's only anti his personality, not his piano playing, which is the important thing.


Actually if we were genuinely interested in the music we wouldn't comment on his personality. To describe it as "only anti-personality" could be a cover for many sins.

For example, I checked to see if he was Jewish. Being a good pianist doesn't make him immune to rudeness or incapable of being rude, but then, neither does being bad, which compared to him I'm sure many of us are.


I would agree in general, however the discussion on this thread appears to be more about the interaction between him and the audience i.e. his personality, than the actual performance itself.

I don't think personality much matters when judging someone's actual piano playing,
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by prout


Quote
As far as the perfume thing is concerned, I'm not sure where I stand on that. It raises the question, what is a heavy scent? For example if I had a shower with some scented soap? Or is it actually that some scents contain chemicals that some people are allergic to? Not being a particular scent-wearer, I wouldn't know.
Why should anyone use scented soaps, deodorants and shampoos and such-like products. They are all available now in unscented versions and do the same job. The scent has no function. This is not 17th C France where bathing was costly, not available to most people, and where there was a widespread belief that immersion in warm water was bad for you.


For some people, soaps with scent have a function with some similarity to the function of music - it's a matter of esthetic appreciation. I'm thinking quite a lot of people must think that way, since the range of scented soaps is vast. Many such soaps, perhaps most, don't really have much of a scent that lingers on the skin in any noticeable way. The idea is to make bathing pleasant, I think. It's not necessarily about leaving a strong scent after the bath (which might interfere with other scents the person might want to apply later), although there are some that actually are designed to do that.

On a related tangent - years ago Stephen Hough had an active blog at a Brit newspaper site, and I was somewhat surprised to learn from his entries there that he was very much into the world of perfumes and scents, and loved to talk about them. Thinking more about it, I don't know why that would be surprising to me, but it was.


Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
At least it wasn't snoring - a common problem at many opera performances. Nothing like watching Kundry sing in Parsifal, accompanied by a sonority of someone sawing wood - at the Met, no less! shocked


I think I've found the connection here. The performer whose concert gets coughed at by the cougher would be the coughee. The concern with fragrance would be for those audience members who wake up and smell the coughee.... ;-)
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
I think I've found the connection here. The performer whose concert gets coughed at by the cougher would be the coughee. The concern with fragrance would be for those audience members who wake up and smell the coughee.... ;-)


Groan. Chuckling softly.
Originally Posted by gooddog
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
I think I've found the connection here. The performer whose concert gets coughed at by the cougher would be the coughee. The concern with fragrance would be for those audience members who wake up and smell the coughee.... ;-)


Groan. Chuckling softly.

!!
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
[quote=wr][quote=prout]

[quote][...]
I think I've found the connection here. The performer whose concert gets coughed at by the cougher would be the coughee. The concern with fragrance would be for those audience members who wake up and smell the coughee.... ;-)


With all due respect, I don't think that the coughee is someone I would care to smell, thanks all the same! smile

Cheers
How did he know who coughed?
I think the NYC concert coughers are almost bad enough to turn a lifelong Democrat into a Republican.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus


I think Schiff is a terrific pianist but in master classes he can be quite cruel. I have observed this in person at least twice.



That's disappointing to hear. I've only seen his master classes online and he came across as lovely. What a shame.

Is this the concert?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0000p44

It's only available for a few weeks online.
At least the Schiff incident didn't end in a brawl, like this here yesterday in Sweden:

https://www.thelocal.se/20181017/fist-fight-breaks-during-mahlers-fifth-in-malmo
Wearing a fragrance isn't essential. Neither is attending a concert or eating at a restauarant. If fragrances bother a person or even provoke allergies I would advise that person to not attend events where an interaction might occur.

Obviously this is a different matter in places where compulsory attendance might be necessary: schools, colleges, hospitals, courtrooms etc. In these cases it is probably more considerate for everyone to minimise the use of fragrances.

Schiff is an ill mannered fool. He nor could the OP possibly be 100% certain of the need or otherwise for the cough so the human being should always be given the benefit of the doubt rather than being publicly shamed by an egomaniac who seems to think he is a gift from god.
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by pianoloverus


I think Schiff is a terrific pianist but in master classes he can be quite cruel. I have observed this in person at least twice.



That's disappointing to hear. I've only seen his master classes online and he came across as lovely. What a shame.



In this sort of instance it is probably best to go with your experience of an individual, rather than an anonymous posting on an internet forum.

I have observed this in person at least twice.....
Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by pianoloverus


I think Schiff is a terrific pianist but in master classes he can be quite cruel. I have observed this in person at least twice.



That's disappointing to hear. I've only seen his master classes online and he came across as lovely. What a shame.



In this sort of instance it is probably best to go with your experience of an individual, rather than an anonymous posting on an internet forum.

I have observed this in person at least twice.....


Fair point.
Schiff is a superb pianist and scholarly musician and has my upmost respect an admiration. I've highly enjoyed his WTC for decades among others. His masterclasses on youtube seem benign enough and he tends to speaks slowly and deliberately during interviews whether in English or German. This incident is of little import and his respect by the public at large and colleagues are what truly represent this master.
Originally Posted by kbrod1
Schiff is a superb pianist and scholarly musician and has my upmost respect an admiration. I've highly enjoyed his WTC for decades among others. His masterclasses on youtube seem benign enough and he tends to speaks slowly and deliberately during interviews whether in English or German. This incident is of little import and his respect by the public at large and colleagues are what truly represent this master.
I agree Schiff is a terrific pianist but don't you think in a masterclass that's being filmed he might act differently than a non filmed masterclass? I found his masterclass behavior so extreme that for quite a while I couldn't listen to his playing objectively. IMO major ridiculing of a student in public is not excusable no matter how great the teacher is.
I remember reading that Cortot was very strict and condescending with students. Ironically he too is a pianist I highly admire, perhaps my all around favorite. He said something to the effect of music is a temple and only the chosen few are allowed to enter. Maybe with the constant applause, doting and idolation they become narcissistic in their behavior. Then again some people are malignant narcissists and think they know more than anybody and have done more than anybody ......
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by kbrod1
Schiff is a superb pianist and scholarly musician and has my upmost respect an admiration. I've highly enjoyed his WTC for decades among others. His masterclasses on youtube seem benign enough and he tends to speaks slowly and deliberately during interviews whether in English or German. This incident is of little import and his respect by the public at large and colleagues are what truly represent this master.
I agree Schiff is a terrific pianist but don't you think in a masterclass that's being filmed he might act differently than a non filmed masterclass? I found his masterclass behavior so extreme that for quite a while I couldn't listen to his playing objectively. IMO major ridiculing of a student in public is not excusable no matter how great the teacher is.

Totally agree. I observed a masterclass, not Schiff, but another big name completely humiliate an undergraduate music major. He asked her if she could even count to 4. I wonder now if she has anything to do with piano. This approach is so mean-spirited compared to another master class with Andre Watts who was so supportive.
Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
[...]
Totally agree. I observed a masterclass, not Schiff, but another big name completely humiliate an undergraduate music major. He asked her if she could even count to 4. I wonder now if she has anything to do with piano. This approach is so mean-spirited compared to another master class with Andre Watts who was so supportive.


A friend of mine reports that she attended a master class by an internationally acclaimed pianist who so humiliated a student with severe criticism ending with the crass remark: "Why are you even playing the piano?" that the student left the stage in tears, and my friend has lost a great deal of the respect she had had for this artist. My friend, not a pianist but a long-time music aficionado, thought that the student was a fine performer and did not deserve the disrespect she got.

Yes, this artist is a highly respected musician, but such insensitivity so publicly displayed makes one wonder why such a person even gives master classes.

Regards,
Some pianists have big egos.

Schiff has a bigger ego than most (from what I've heard of him in interviews) - and he's just about the only classical musician who insists that his knighthood is appended whenever he's introduced or addressed. Whereas the likes of Sir Simon, Sir Andrew, Sir Mark, Dame Mitsuko etc are embarrassed if their interviewers address them by their bestowed titles. (BTW, I'm talking about András, not Heinrich, who was a thoroughly nice guy).

And he often doesn't even practices what he preaches so adamantly.

As for Schiff's actual playing, there's nothing from him (from Bach to Beethoven to Brahms to Bartók) that I prefer to several other pianists. He has a tendency to prissiness, even in rep that demands full-on power and forcefulness.

And he often doesn't even practice what he preaches so adamantly.......
This is what makes life interesting. You can take the finest performance say from S. Richter and look on youtube and people will give it bad reviews or thumbs down. That said everyone has different tastes. I for one highly enjoy his interpretations. His WTC has been the benchmark for me for decades. Every note crystal clear yet beautiful legato playing in general. I have purchase too numerous to count recordings of the same from Edwin Fischer to a new recording played by Alexandra Papastefanou. I still find myself coming back to Schiff.
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Schiff is an ill mannered fool. He nor could the OP possibly be 100% certain of the need or otherwise for the cough so the human being should always be given the benefit of the doubt rather than being publicly shamed by an egomaniac who seems to think he is a gift from god.

Disagree. The OP can be as good as 100% certain. He was there and the circumstances were very clear.
I bet it was actually the OP that coughed and they're just writing this thread to see what we think about it laugh
Excuse me, I have never yet coughed in a concert.
Originally Posted by David-G
Excuse me, I have never yet coughed in a concert.


Congratulations for having a super-healthy respiratory system! Give yourself a biscuit.
Not such a good idea. Biscuits can lead to dry tickly coughs!
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.
Originally Posted by wr
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.
You have described a technique taught by speech therapists to people with a chronic coughing problem. It can definitely work but is not always successful as I know from my personal experience trying it.
I once coughed at a concert. It came out of nowhere. Earlier my lungs had started tickling, and I worked really hard to suppress the cough. Then when I thought it was gone, it got me. Luckily I had my hand over my mouth and nobody seemed to notice. It probably helped that the music was very loud.

I often wonder if concert pianists have a phobia about sneezing. Can you imagine?
Originally Posted by wr
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.


That's the important bit. People arrive at a concert hall with different levels of respiratory health, allergies and neurological control. It is impossible for me, you, the OP or Andras Schiff to say whether or not that particular individual could have done more to avoid that cough. And the level of self-entitlement that puts a bogus need to complete the communion with God via an evening with Bach versus the health need of a human being who waited until the music was finished before coughing, is jaw dropping.

For info: Wigmore Hall is in Central London a city with one of the worse levels of air pollution in the developed world. London exceeds its annual limit for air pollution before the end of January every year.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...n-limit-just-one-month-into-the-new-year
https://www.theguardian.com/environ...g-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle

Where there is bad air there are allergies and asthma and the increased risk of coughing. More than 12% of the UK population has been diagnosed with asthma. I dread to think what the percentage is in London. We took the painful decision to move out of London for one reason and one reason only, so our children could grow up with better air quality.

I am not a cougher. My wife is. She is also a lover of music and culture. If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to.

I think a little more tolerance of human foibles and frailties would make the world a much better place in so many ways.
Originally Posted by prout
those who do and produce this level of music should be accomodated.


Not really.

Regardless of how talented a person is, a poor attitude, and poor treatment of other PEOPLE is more important than being able to skilfully twinkle their fingers on a piano. The tolerance of this behaviour for people with great ability is what allows them to act like this.
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by wr
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.


That's the important bit. People arrive at a concert hall with different levels of respiratory health, allergies and neurological control. It is impossible for me, you, the OP or Andras Schiff to say whether or not that particular individual could have done more to avoid that cough. And the level of self-entitlement that puts a bogus need to complete the communion with God via an evening with Bach versus the health need of a human being who waited until the music was finished before coughing, is jaw dropping.

For info: Wigmore Hall is in Central London a city with one of the worse levels of air pollution in the developed world. London exceeds its annual limit for air pollution before the end of January every year.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...n-limit-just-one-month-into-the-new-year
https://www.theguardian.com/environ...g-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle

Where there is bad air there are allergies and asthma and the increased risk of coughing. More than 12% of the UK population has been diagnosed with asthma. I dread to think what the percentage is in London. We took the painful decision to move out of London for one reason and one reason only, so our children could grow up with better air quality.

I am not a cougher. My wife is. She is also a lover of music and culture. If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to.

I think a little more tolerance of human foibles and frailties would make the world a much better place in so many ways.


"At least it is for me", you have arbitarily decided that this is "the important bit", I am not sure that is the case.

So if we take this... "If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to. ""

You say you are not a cougher but your wife is, but you also assume that EVERYBODY only coughs because they need to, which is plainly not the case on many occasions, using a cough to attract attention to yourself is fairly common practice. Therefore the subject matter of the OP is relevant and it would be agreed, almost anywhere but the internet, that he is the best judge of the situation.
Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by wr
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.


That's the important bit. People arrive at a concert hall with different levels of respiratory health, allergies and neurological control. It is impossible for me, you, the OP or Andras Schiff to say whether or not that particular individual could have done more to avoid that cough. And the level of self-entitlement that puts a bogus need to complete the communion with God via an evening with Bach versus the health need of a human being who waited until the music was finished before coughing, is jaw dropping.

For info: Wigmore Hall is in Central London a city with one of the worse levels of air pollution in the developed world. London exceeds its annual limit for air pollution before the end of January every year.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...n-limit-just-one-month-into-the-new-year
https://www.theguardian.com/environ...g-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle

Where there is bad air there are allergies and asthma and the increased risk of coughing. More than 12% of the UK population has been diagnosed with asthma. I dread to think what the percentage is in London. We took the painful decision to move out of London for one reason and one reason only, so our children could grow up with better air quality.

I am not a cougher. My wife is. She is also a lover of music and culture. If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to.

I think a little more tolerance of human foibles and frailties would make the world a much better place in so many ways.


"At least it is for me", you have arbitarily decided that this is "the important bit", I am not sure that is the case.

So if we take this... "If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to. ""

You say you are not a cougher but your wife is, but you also assume that EVERYBODY only coughs because they need to, which is plainly not the case on many occasions, using a cough to attract attention to yourself is fairly common practice. Therefore the subject matter of the OP is relevant and it would be agreed, almost anywhere but the internet, that he is the best judge of the situation.



The only assumption I make is that I only have experience of being me. I have zero experience of being anyone else, inhabiting their body, experiencing their psychology, so I, like you, like the OP, like Andras Schiff are in no position whatsoever to decide whether or not another individual needed to cough. And when in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt and don't judge.

The ridiculousness of this situation is that the audience member actually waited until the end of the music to cough, but oh no, he interrupted Schiff's holy communion and must be shamed and 'put in his place' by the laughably pompous maestro .... Schiff is the one who should be ashamed of himself.
Originally Posted by slipperykeys

You say you are not a cougher but your wife is, but you also assume that EVERYBODY only coughs because they need to, which is plainly not the case on many occasions, using a cough to attract attention to yourself is fairly common practice.


Are you suggesting a situation where someone is at a classical music gig, waits until the music has stopped and then deliberately coughs to draw attention to themselves?

This seems a little irregular...I have trouble making that stick in my mind.

It is certainly the case that people often cough to draw attention to themselves, for example, before a speech, or similar, but in this music concert situation it seems highly unlikely. Unless of course, it is a puerile joke, which could be possible, I suppose.
My wife, who does not participate in this forum asked me to post this about Schiff's behavior.

Mrs. Slothrop:
"Top artists often perform immersively, where the music passes through the lens of their own emotions and they express those emotions in their performance. It is not easy to switch out of this moment of open expression, honesty, and even vulnerability, and when something negative suddenly occurs for them, they might express their frustration through behavior lacking in the usual courtesy, since they are still in a psychological state of being open and honest - their frustration is also a reflection of that honesty. I feel this speaks in their favor since caught in that moment, they overreact. It is what makes them a talented artist."
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by wr
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.


That's the important bit. People arrive at a concert hall with different levels of respiratory health, allergies and neurological control. It is impossible for me, you, the OP or Andras Schiff to say whether or not that particular individual could have done more to avoid that cough. And the level of self-entitlement that puts a bogus need to complete the communion with God via an evening with Bach versus the health need of a human being who waited until the music was finished before coughing, is jaw dropping.

For info: Wigmore Hall is in Central London a city with one of the worse levels of air pollution in the developed world. London exceeds its annual limit for air pollution before the end of January every year.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...n-limit-just-one-month-into-the-new-year
https://www.theguardian.com/environ...g-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle

Where there is bad air there are allergies and asthma and the increased risk of coughing. More than 12% of the UK population has been diagnosed with asthma. I dread to think what the percentage is in London. We took the painful decision to move out of London for one reason and one reason only, so our children could grow up with better air quality.

I am not a cougher. My wife is. She is also a lover of music and culture. If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to.

I think a little more tolerance of human foibles and frailties would make the world a much better place in so many ways.


"At least it is for me", you have arbitarily decided that this is "the important bit", I am not sure that is the case.

So if we take this... "If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to. ""

You say you are not a cougher but your wife is, but you also assume that EVERYBODY only coughs because they need to, which is plainly not the case on many occasions, using a cough to attract attention to yourself is fairly common practice. Therefore the subject matter of the OP is relevant and it would be agreed, almost anywhere but the internet, that he is the best judge of the situation.



....... And when in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt and don't judge.

The ridiculousness of this situation is that the audience member actually waited until the end of the music to cough, but oh no, he interrupted Schiff's holy communion and must be shamed and 'put in his place' by the laughably pompous maestro .... Schiff is the one who should be ashamed of himself.

You appear quite content to judge, "the laughably pompous maestro...." giving him no "benefit of the doubt" whatsoever.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
My wife, who does not participate in this forum asked me to post this about Schiff's behavior.

Mrs. Slothrop:
"Top artists often perform immersively, where the music passes through the lens of their own emotions and they express those emotions in their performance. It is not easy to switch out of this moment of open expression, honesty, and even vulnerability, and when something negative suddenly occurs for them, they might express their frustration through behavior lacking in the usual courtesy, since they are still in a psychological state of being open and honest - their frustration is also a reflection of that honesty. I feel this speaks in their favor since caught in that moment, they overreact. It is what makes them a talented artist."



Please thank your wife, she has shown a lot of sense and understanding. Still, perhaps I'll just get my big verbal stick out to assault the artist..... Seems the populist route.

It would be nice to see how we react when/if such an event overtook ourselves. I have a feeling a little more understanding for the performer might be shown!
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
My wife, who does not participate in this forum asked me to post this about Schiff's behavior.

Mrs. Slothrop:
"... their frustration is also a reflection of that honesty. I feel this speaks in their favor since caught in that moment, they overreact. It is what makes them a talented artist."



Seriously? Not every talented Artist is arrogant and rude. Sounds like a trend with this guy.

They are professionals ... deal with it. Also, they have the stage so intentionally centering someone out could be very humiliating and is certainly unprofessional. No amount of greatness or sickness, or being old or just generally grumpy gives anyone permission to be rude.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
My wife, who does not participate in this forum asked me to post this about Schiff's behavior.

Mrs. Slothrop:
"Top artists often perform immersively, where the music passes through the lens of their own emotions and they express those emotions in their performance. It is not easy to switch out of this moment of open expression, honesty, and even vulnerability, and when something negative suddenly occurs for them, they might express their frustration through behavior lacking in the usual courtesy, since they are still in a psychological state of being open and honest - their frustration is also a reflection of that honesty. I feel this speaks in their favor since caught in that moment, they overreact. It is what makes them a talented artist."



Not all 'top artists' are petulant brats. The bratty ones don't deserve a free pass due to talent. Here is how an artist twice the calibre of Andras Schiff deals with a much more intrusive irritation than a single cough after the performance has finished.



It is called a sense of perspective.
Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted by wr
I consciously learned how to "swallow" coughs, after I read that it was possible (I think it may have been in something Brendel wrote or said). Now I am convinced that, unless you are so ill with a virus that you should be home in bed, a cough is almost always avoidable. At least it is for me. The trick is to keep your swallowing mechanism continuously working until the impulse to cough goes away. You can't cough and swallow at the same time, after all. It is a technique that actually works, but I wouldn't have known to try it without reading about it - it's not very intuitive, and it does feel a bit weird.


That's the important bit. People arrive at a concert hall with different levels of respiratory health, allergies and neurological control. It is impossible for me, you, the OP or Andras Schiff to say whether or not that particular individual could have done more to avoid that cough. And the level of self-entitlement that puts a bogus need to complete the communion with God via an evening with Bach versus the health need of a human being who waited until the music was finished before coughing, is jaw dropping.

For info: Wigmore Hall is in Central London a city with one of the worse levels of air pollution in the developed world. London exceeds its annual limit for air pollution before the end of January every year.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...n-limit-just-one-month-into-the-new-year
https://www.theguardian.com/environ...g-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle

Where there is bad air there are allergies and asthma and the increased risk of coughing. More than 12% of the UK population has been diagnosed with asthma. I dread to think what the percentage is in London. We took the painful decision to move out of London for one reason and one reason only, so our children could grow up with better air quality.

I am not a cougher. My wife is. She is also a lover of music and culture. If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to.

I think a little more tolerance of human foibles and frailties would make the world a much better place in so many ways.


"At least it is for me", you have arbitarily decided that this is "the important bit", I am not sure that is the case.

So if we take this... "If she has a cough during a musical or theatrical performance, it is because she needs to not because she wants to. ""

You say you are not a cougher but your wife is, but you also assume that EVERYBODY only coughs because they need to, which is plainly not the case on many occasions, using a cough to attract attention to yourself is fairly common practice. Therefore the subject matter of the OP is relevant and it would be agreed, almost anywhere but the internet, that he is the best judge of the situation.



....... And when in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt and don't judge.

The ridiculousness of this situation is that the audience member actually waited until the end of the music to cough, but oh no, he interrupted Schiff's holy communion and must be shamed and 'put in his place' by the laughably pompous maestro .... Schiff is the one who should be ashamed of himself.

You appear quite content to judge, "the laughably pompous maestro...." giving him no "benefit of the doubt" whatsoever.


Ok with the caveat that the OP's description of the event is accurate, there is no benefit of the doubt. That is the behaviour of a puffed up, pompous four year old in men's clothing.
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
My wife, who does not participate in this forum asked me to post this about Schiff's behavior.

Mrs. Slothrop:
"Top artists often perform immersively, where the music passes through the lens of their own emotions and they express those emotions in their performance. It is not easy to switch out of this moment of open expression, honesty, and even vulnerability, and when something negative suddenly occurs for them, they might express their frustration through behavior lacking in the usual courtesy, since they are still in a psychological state of being open and honest - their frustration is also a reflection of that honesty. I feel this speaks in their favor since caught in that moment, they overreact. It is what makes them a talented artist."



It sounds like your wife is very perceptive, when it comes to performers ! thumb
While there are undoubtedly rude and ignorant people who make all sorts of noise at concerts, sometimes it just can't be helped. I can't help but think of the time a man died in London when Mitsuko Uchida was performing (I know it's an extreme example).

When she took to the stage to continue after the incident, she addressed the audience saying something like "What a beautiful time to go." I always thought that was such a simple yet lovely thing to say. I'm sure it got back to his family.
How absurdly ridiculous. Time for him to retire. The fact that the man actually waited until the sound stopped to cough is evidence enough to me that he was having a hard time keeping it in and it just had to come out. Imagine somebody attending a classical concert for the first time and witnessing this behavior, thinking it is the norm. They now are likely paralyzed the next time the go to one that they will face public humiliation.

I also find it indireclty ironic that Schiff (more than almost any other artist), prides himself as a musician true to the composer and the era of the time. He should know that during Schubert's life these sontas were performed not in large, quiet concert halls, but in informal salon settings, where pianists would play individual movements - not where people would talk when playing, but certainly not as formal as the airtight atmosphere in concert halls today.
Hello Maximus grin grin I'm sorry that I've got something totally irrelevant - I was curious what Pogorelich exactly said during his speech after the 2006 NYC recital and was hoping you could contribute some sort of info. I know it's been a while but anyhting at all would be much appreciated!
(Basically just try and fill in the missing bits below please...)

The second thing he brought up was apparently about some misfortune that took place at the time in NYC/the US(?).
"Second of all, it disgusts(?) ...(inaudible) the people who come and ...(inaudible), to reflect on the most unfortunate(?) 9th day of September, that has...(inaudible) as yet. I would ask for a few moments of silence."

About future plans:
"...and we're trying to establish this regional(?)... ... in January of 2008. However before that I would become a ...(?), I like that the condition with the city is much less garbage on the streets, very very nice to see the people, and ... ... . And I'm going back to the building where I used to keep an apartment in which I saw that my wife passed away, and ... ... . So, I might become one of you again. Thank you very much."

Earlier, before the final piece(Rach sonata NO.2), the brief speech on the Hamburg/NY pianos:
"...and I wish I could've used both, because it's such a diverse program that goes to play(?) general music ... ..., and music that had to do with the 20th century. But the section, approx. the second of the...(?), was .... ..., so I have to ... ... .... (then they laughed)"


Again thanks so much if you've waded through this!
Then there's this - interesting in its own right, but I was particularly taken with the reference to another concert where the conductor hurled cough drops at the audience!!

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/m...-cough-drops-miffed-muti-stops-cso-show/
Originally Posted by wr
Then there's this - interesting in its own right, but I was particularly taken with the reference to another concert where the conductor hurled cough drops at the audience!!

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/m...-cough-drops-miffed-muti-stops-cso-show/


If I took one of the free cough drops I'd probably start choking on it. That would really cause a stir.
Originally Posted by wr
Then there's this - interesting in its own right, but I was particularly taken with the reference to another concert where the conductor hurled cough drops at the audience!!

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/m...-cough-drops-miffed-muti-stops-cso-show/


from that article:

“Audiences seem to be getting ruder,” Johnson said.

Well some of the conductors certainly are!

"Muti briefly castigated the audience. His exact words — including the use of profanity — were, given his heavy Italian accent, disputed over social media by those in attendance."

He has no right to demand good manners when he is an uncouth pig who cannot control his own tongue.

Pot. Kettle. As they say.


What a jumped-up wally.

I should wager that one of these days, the audience will start booing behaviour like this, and possibly some of them will get up and walk out, or even demand a refund on their ticket. This cannot end well, surely.

Conductors are sometimes a funny lot. Even in that picture of him in that article he looks like a pompous prat.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to stop a performance and "refocus" as the article says. But to reprimand the audience simply paints one as being on a power trip. As well as being a wally, as I said before.

I have worked with a few conductors in my time, and I must say, I found a lot of them to be po-faced and arrogant, and actually rather unpopular with the orchestra.
Originally Posted by wr
Then there's this - interesting in its own right, but I was particularly taken with the reference to another concert where the conductor hurled cough drops at the audience!!

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/m...-cough-drops-miffed-muti-stops-cso-show/
The writer of that article seems to think it is always possible to hold in a cough until the end of a piece or movement. Of course, that's simply not true. OTOH there are probably some people who make no attempt to stifle a cough or muffle it with their hand or jacket.
Especially the old "Cough on your own saliva" which I'm sure we're all familiar with, where one mis-swallows.

I did that a couple of days ago, and it was reflex, no way I could hold that in.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Especially the old "Cough on your own saliva" which I'm sure we're all familiar with, where one mis-swallows.

I did that a couple of days ago, and it was reflex, no way I could hold that in.

Not sure that what people say are reflexes are actually true reflexes. When I was a kid, I taught myself how to suppress both hiccups and sneezes, both of which some people claim are reflexes, and I do that to this day, when it is inconvenient to sneeze or hiccup (it's always inconvenient to hiccup, so as a rule, or except as a gag, I never allow myself to hiccup). I've never specially tried to teach myself to suppress coughs, since even when I was a kid, coughing seemed like such a voluntary process. But I suppose one could teach oneself to suppress coughing too if its possible to do with sneezes and hiccups. That is unless it is like learning to curl your tongue, something only children can teach themselves to do, as I understand.
Well, at least he and the audience didn't start clapping, cheering, whistling and so on after the first few bars. I'm not sure if it still happens, but I bought a live album, I think it was Simon and Garfunckle and the coughing started after (well during) the intro to 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters'. Now that is infuriating!
This chap throwing cough drops at the audience, what a generous gesture, so caring and showing genuine concern for the health of concert-goers. About time this sort of facility was made available to us all. But was he certain the cough drops were reaching the intended recipients? The whole delivery method seems very open to error and inaccuracy. There is a good chance somebody without a cough received a cough-drop that firstly they had not earned and secondly were not in need of.
All very haphazard. I wonder... has he seen those DHL ads? (Other accurate delivery companies are available)

Originally Posted by Zaphod


...... Even in that picture of him in that article he looks like a pompous prat.



Convincing argument. Wins it for me,

Although it's easy to look bad in a photograph, even I can do it, if I try hard enough. Still, let's get 'em where it hurts, nothing pompous about us all sitting in judgement....

In the interests of balance, you could send him a picture of you and ask him what he thinks you look like.

Originally Posted by Zaphod

I think it's perfectly acceptable to stop a performance and "refocus" as the article says.


Yes but it takes time, makes people late, some have to be up early tomorrow, taxi's are booked, baby-sitters.... this isn't a Bruce Springsteen concert where you expect the "artist" to be late as he wants and to show no regard to you and your needs! Indeed, here the artist has already demonstrated his concern for others by remembering to bring his stock of cough-drops.

Originally Posted by Zaphod


I have worked with a few conductors in my time, and I must say, I found a lot of them to be po-faced and arrogant, and actually rather unpopular with the orchestra.


Well, I think they're probably going to be. Telling other people what to do is often a recipe for making oneself unpopular, especially if the people you are telling what to do think they already know better than you.

Cough drops eh? Must go to a concert soon, I'm feeling a little "chesty", although I think I better take a big net.


Originally Posted by wr
Then there's this - interesting in its own right, but I was particularly taken with the reference to another concert where the conductor hurled cough drops at the audience!!

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/m...-cough-drops-miffed-muti-stops-cso-show/

These prima donnas need to get a grip on reality. If it weren’t for the paying plebes who fill the concert halls these demi-gods would be out of work.
Originally Posted by slipperykeys

Originally Posted by Zaphod


...... Even in that picture of him in that article he looks like a pompous prat.



Convincing argument. Wins it for me,


That made me chuckle.
Originally Posted by Zaphod
Originally Posted by slipperykeys

Originally Posted by Zaphod


...... Even in that picture of him in that article he looks like a pompous prat.



Convincing argument. Wins it for me,


That made me chuckle.


I'm glad, and it's good of you to take it in the spirit it was intended, to a large extent the whole thing was meant to be a bit of a joke.
There is something that doesn't quite make sense to me about the coughing that you always get at classical concerts. If you need to cough, surely it would be possible to wait for a forte passage instead of spoiling a pianissimo or a break between movements or the transcendental 5 seconds at the end of a Schubert recital. Then, nobody would hear it as it'd be effectively masked by the dB level of the music.

Sometimes coughing just cannot be avoided which is just something you accept in a public place. Or if you know you're going to cough a lot, don't go to a concert.

But most people, most of the time can control it as is proved by the fact that everyone coughs in a break.

Much better to do it in a loud bit or during applause, and no one would be bothered by it or even aware of it.
Originally Posted by toddy
There is something that doesn't quite make sense to me about the coughing that you always get at classical concerts. If you need to cough, surely it would be possible to wait for a forte passage instead of spoiling a pianissimo or a break between movements or the transcendental 5 seconds at the end of a Schubert recital. Then, nobody would hear it as it'd be effectively masked by the dB level of the music.
As someone with a chronic cough problem, I can say it's definitely not true that one can hold in a cough for any length of time, even a few additional seconds. A cough will be heard in a loud passage although it's true that it will be less of a disruption.

As far as the end of the recital goes, it's possible that the cougher just didn't realize that it would be better to wait until Schiff was completely finished(for ten few more seconds after the piece ended) or he may have been struggling to hold in the cough for a while before the piece ended. No one knows but I think it kind of ruins the recital to do what Schiff did at the end. There are hundreds or thousands of people in the audience at these recitals and to expect perfect behavior from all of them is just unrealistic.
Originally Posted by toddy
There is something that doesn't quite make sense to me about the coughing that you always get at classical concerts. If you need to cough, surely it would be possible to wait for a forte passage instead of spoiling a pianissimo or a break between movements or the transcendental 5 seconds at the end of a Schubert recital. Then, nobody would hear it as it'd be effectively masked by the dB level of the music.

Sometimes coughing just cannot be avoided which is just something you accept in a public place. Or if you know you're going to cough a lot, don't go to a concert.

But most people, most of the time can control it as is proved by the fact that everyone coughs in a break.

Much better to do it in a loud bit or during applause, and no one would be bothered by it or even aware of it.



The mistake imo is to believe that because most people can control a cough most of the time therefore all people ought to be able to control a cough all of the time. This is plainly illogical.

I could just as easily argue that because hardly anyone ever coughs during a quiet passage, on the rare occasion that it does occur it is probably unavoidable. Tickets are not cheap, who would pay money to deliberately spoil the show for themselves and others?
Yes, as I said above, coughing can't always be avoided and so is just something that you have to accept in public places. I just wish those that can control it (most people) would wait for loud sections.
© Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums