This is probably an unusual question about tradition or etiquette. I believe I heard from a critic many years ago that it was appropriate for a critic not to applause after a concert. It gives the feeling that the critic perhaps would not commit him- or herself to a positive reaction before publishing.

It sounds somewhat outdated, but I wonder if anyone knows if such a tradition is used today?

  • Perhaps you never have seen, or heard of, the sarcastic slow-clap? Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 22:06
  • That would be a commitment my hypothetical critic would stay away from. I use "critic" as a person who offers an opinion, not necessarily negative. Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 7:17

2 Answers 2


I recognize the point, but consider it impolite for these reasons:

  • I can't imagine, that a performance failed in every respect; the successful ones deserve their applause.
  • Today it is quite unlikely, that the critic is recognized as such; even if he/she is, nobody will consider applause as a commitment.

I heard once from an critic the statement, that he will not write a positive sentence for a concert he found lacking overall, because he then repeatedly found the isolated positive sentence quoted afterwards.

Summarize: I consider this a a convenient pretext.

  • You mean the infamous " Mr.SoAndSo's performance was not half-bad. In fact, it was all bad." ? :-) Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 22:07

I think it would be regarded as rude if they didn't applaud, even if they don't think the piece deserves a positive review. If not for the piece itself, at least they would probably applaud for the way the musicians performed it.

One time it would be unlikely for a critic to applaud is between the movements of a multi-movement work. Quite often the audience will applaud between movements (I've been to several concerts in the last two years since things started opening up again, and I've noticed this varies a lot, probably depending on whether the audience at a particular concert is predominantly regular concertgoers or people who arent's so familiar with classical music), but I'm sure a critic would always respect the tradition of not applauding between movements, and wait until the whole piece is finished. This could definitely appear rude to an onlooker if most of the audience is applauding but the critic isn't, but it's actually quite the opposite.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.