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date: 21 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the extent to which representations of “improper” listening are found in popular and academic literature of German and U.S. origin, for the process of reception is highly susceptible to error and interference. Indeed, despite near-ideal conditions, concert-goers are as prone to molding their experience according to subjective predilections as any other type of listener. They may not even be listening at all, despite being physically present and dependent on the musical performance. This mode of behavior as a fact of (concert) life is sometimes mentioned in recent popular books on music but seldom appears in older books; nor has it been part of musicological accounts of symphonic concerts, although scholars such as James H. Johnson (1995) and Peter Gay (1995) speak extensively about disruptions in historical performances. The chapter considers changes in the assessment of such listening in recent years and contemplates causes for these shifts.

Keywords: attentive listening, error in performance, guide books, historicity of listening, inattentive listening, music appreciation, listener types

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