The venue in which you hear a piece of music can be just as important as the notes the musicians are playing.

 L ast year I got a free ticket to see Plácido Domingo at Olympic Park in Sydney. The venue was so large that when the star came on stage he was about as far away as Alpha Centauri. His voice was still great through the massive sound system, but there was about as much atmosphere in the place as at my local 7 Eleven. The experience led me to ponder how the venue for classical music can be almost as important as the music itself. 

Our modern-day concert halls are vastly bigger than the spaces for which the music was originally conceived. In 1800 Beethoven hired the Burgtheater in Vienna to premiere his First Symphony. The theatre has been rebuilt over the years, but you can tell from paintings of the time that it had stalls of only 17 rows of 20 seats...