I loved the recent report of a fight which broke out in a concert in Malmö, Sweden, where the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra was performing Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

Guy Noble Guy Noble

One audience member became so distracted by a woman next to him opening a packet of gum in the softest moments that he grabbed it from her and threw it to the floor. “In retaliation the woman, after calmly waiting more than an hour for the orchestra to finish its performance, slapped the man in the face, sparking a full on brawl between the pair.”

Well I know how infuriating that can be. The Mahler reaches its softest point in the Adagiettomovement and suddenly there is a crackle of wrapper that completely takes attention away from the music. It’s now the Adagiettofor strings, harp and wrapper. In the attempt to make as little noise as possible, the wrapper-unwrapping goes on for longer than it should, in excruciating slow motion. I imagine the performance was ruined for both. The grabb-er had another hour of music to question whether he had done the right thing, and the grabb-ee was probably so incensed that...