LINK: Your approximately-monthly worthwhile New Yorker article, this time on the evolution of behavior at classical music concerts. In my earlier years at Duke (when I had time for these things) I went to many, and was always most particularly confused by the norm against moving while the music is playing. As far as I am aware, this is the only type of music for which it is true. In most others--jazz especially--being literally moved by the music constitutes the highest kind of approbation.

Who's to blame, you ask? The bourgeoisie, here as everywhere else:

What changed? The historians point their fingers at the middle classes. With the aristocracy declining in the wake of the French Revolution and subsequent upheavals, the bourgeoisie increasingly took control of musical life, imposing a new conception of how concerts should unfold: programs favored composers of the past over those of the present, popular fare was banished, program notes provided orientation to the uninitiated, and the practice of milling about, talking, and applauding during the music subsided. To some extent, these changes can be explained in anthropological terms: by applauding here and not applauding there, the bourgeois were signalling their membership in a social and cultural élite. As Johnson points out, they felt obliged to reconfirm that status from year to year, since, unlike the aristocrats of yore, they lived in fear of going back down the ladder. “The bourgeoisie isn’t a class, it’s a position,” the Journal des Débats advised. “You acquire it, you lose it.” Attending concerts became a kind of performance in itself, a dance of decorum.

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