A discordant distraction
It’s often in the quietest slow movements. The fellow in Row H starts the noisy job of unwrapping a throat lozenge. But he isn’t quick enough to quell the cough.
Then comes a chorus of classical concert-goers hacking here and hacking there, drawing angry stares from those without post-nasal drips.
Sure. But not surprising.
A German economist has determined that people are twice as likely to cough during a classical concert as they are during normal life. In an interview reported in the London Telegraph, Professor Andreas Wagner said statistics are sparse, but those that exist support his theory — even after accounting for the demographic make-up (older) of the average classical concert audience.
And indeed, he said, coughing occurs most during quiet movements ... and 20th Century classical pieces.
He doesn’t have an answer to why this is so. It could be a reflex. Or it could be deliberate — an inconsiderate way of commenting on the program.
Some performers say the hacking is nothing to sneeze at. It distracts them from their playing.
But until Prof. Wagner gets farther along in his research, they’ll just have to chalk it up to the Tchai-cough-sky Syndrome.