Don't let this happen to you

I was just thinking of a performance of the BSO a couple years ago. Great performance all around. In the middle of Brahm's 4th symphony, the orchesstra paused between movements. An older gentleman 2 rows behind me thought they were finished, and started applauding wildly. When the rest of the hall was silent, he must have thought we didn't approve of the performance, but he was smart enough to know it was a good performance, so stood up and clapped more vigorously, shouting "Brava!! Brava!!" Again I was struck by his sophomoric intelligence, as he knew that Bravo wasn't always right, but apparently didn't realize that Brava applied only to a woman (the conductor was a man), and should have said Bravo (for the conductor)or Bravi (for the orchestra). The conductor was graceful, and just stood there with his head down, until someone finally reigned the guy in. Too funny!! I always wait until everyone else is clapping befrore I start.
I have always found “Bravo, Brava, or Bravi” as a total affectation when in a non-Italian-speaking country. I would be happier if the Spaniards would shout “Ole”; the French, “Magnifique”; the Russians, “Oshin Harasho”; the English, “Jolly Good”; and Americans (specially in our present culturally-deprived times) simply, “Yee-Haa”.

This happens to the audio reviwers all the time
I wish you had not told that story, my family had almost forgiven me for that blunder.

Had Marco and Gunbei not wakened me from my restful slumber I would not have acted so foolishly. I think they should share the blame.
With very modern, contemporary, musical pieces there is sometimes no obvious or recognizable traditional ending, leaving the audience dead silent until the conductor relaxes his shoulders or turns toward the audience to trigger a response. Sort of like this run-on sentence :>)
P.S. Try attending a gospel concert where everyone claps and shouts as the spirit moves them, leaving the silent ones looking out of place.
If I hear a Yee-Haa in the middle of a symphony, I'll know Albert Porter's in the house, and read Vv's post!!!!!
I was in Symphony Hall Boston on Friday afternoon listening to James Levine conduct a marvelous performance of works that had been commisioned by the BSO.

After a movement of the Dutilleux 2nd symphony that ended in absolute silence, just as Mr. Levine relaxed his arms and smiled at the orchestra; and just before the audience started the obligatory squirming and coughing, someone back in the hall shouted 'YIP!!!' if they had been goosed!!!

Maestro Levine looked at the concertmaster to see if they should proceed. Had someone fallen ill? Had someone been attacked or fallen from the balcony? The violinist looked out at the audience with a stern look to see what was going on.

I think the only explanation is the terribly uncomfortable seats in that hall cause unexplainable behavior - like forgetting that Brahms wrote symphonies with 4 movements.

The acoustics of Symphony Hall are perfection, however. That was my first time there. Probably the best large hall I've experienced (including Carnegie!)
Personally, I love it when people clap between mvmts. It's a signal that more of the uninitiated are experimenting with classical music!

There are times when I wish the symphony were more like a football game. It would be awesome to have people start chanting your name and holding up signs that say "John 3:16" after a big solo :)
Honest1, what a great, interesting & informative story! I most definately after reading this, have learned something, maybe to never clap again.
Hey, in all the 30+ concerts, I attended over the past 8 year in Albuquerque,
people were clapping and shouting 'Bravo' inbetween all movements. I loved
it; it's a very unprententous, natural reaction. And the New Mexico Symphony
Orchestra and the conductor, Guillermo Figueroa, is amazingly good (in
particular for one of the poorest states in the US), so why not show your
enjoyment :)
Honest1, your post reminds me of the special energy that can happen when listening to jazz, live in a small club with an uninhibited audience. The synergy between the crowd and the soloists can take it to another level--with applause, shouts, and other random acknowledgements of pleasure. That's the one thing I miss when listening to jazz on my system at home.
It pays to be sheep and follow people in certain situations. I'm usually not a follower, but when it comes to applauding, I always wait for everyone else just in case I missed something.

albertporter - lol
It has been interesting to read other's takes on this. It seems there are different etiquettes at different locations. I can see the appeal of ahving an enthusiastic, uninhibited crowd expressing their appreciation whenever possible. After reading these posts, I don;t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with clapping between movements if that is the local custom. If it is not the local custom, though, I would still feel embatrassed if I clapped at the wrong time.
This one reason classical music is waning. Too many rules for the average Joe. It's to bad; what wonderful music.
seems there are different etiquettes at different locations /Too many rules for the average Joe
Not really "rules" IMO, as much as musicians having to concentrate a bit after all. A movement is not an intermission, it's part of a piece of music, so clapping whenever, basically there's some silence, is disruptive. Of course it's also nice for musicians to experience audience appreciation....
OTOH, as noted above, in some cases it's tricky to recognise the end of an obscure piece. At one premiere public performance I went to, the Hall had stationed an elderly gentleman in one of the front rows who was obviously familiar with the piece and, amazingly, everyone in the audience followed his clapping cue (hesitantly at first, of course). Or, I think they had deliberately stationed him -- maybe he is composer's family.

A simple thing to do is read the programme. It tells you the movements -- and the number.
2 experiences I can share that happened at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The first was a performance of Symphony #6 by Tchaikovsky. The audience erupted into applause after the 3rd movement, and I knew it wasn't the end, but I joined in anyway. Anyone who knows this work will understand. At the end of the 3rd movement, you're exhilarated. At the end of the 4th movement, you want to go kill yourself.
The other experience was Bruckner's 7th Symphony. When it ended, and nobody applauded, Daniel Barenboim turned around and calmly said "It's over.". Then everyone applauded. Always remember that you're there to have a good time. If you're too worried about etiquette and comitting some heinous audience faux-pax, are you really going to have a good time? ENJOY! (and leave your beeping watch at home...)

and.....leave your cell phone home too!
I've attended numerous Wagner operas on the west coast over the past several years. The "rules" for applause with Wagner are typically pretty simple: if the curtain is up, you just sit there in quasi-religious reverence. At one of the Ring operas in San Fransisco, somebody burst into applause in the middle of an act. I, and I imagine much of the rest of the audience, scorned this sacrilege in our hearts as we waited for the disruption to end. At a Q&A session later in the week, the conductor Donald Runnicles mentioned the "incident" and said he thought it was great that the person had been so moved they had to applaude. So I felt a bit sheepish. But don't clap during Wagner.