The commonly held belief that classical music has a calming effect on people doesn’t always ring true, as demonstrated by an incident on Thursday night in Malmö, involving a noisy gum wrapper during a performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, that escalated into a violent fist fight. Andris Nelsons was conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in the Swedish city when the noise of an audience member rustling a chewing gum wrapper on the second balcony intruded on the fourth movement’s Adagietto, The Local Sweden reported.

Andris Nelsons Conductor Andris Nelsons. Photo © Marco Borggreve

According to the report, originally from the local Sydsvenskan newspaper, a young man incensed by the noise snatched the chewing gum from the hand of the woman sitting next to him and threw it on the floor. While the woman was silent for the remainder of the symphony, an audience member sitting in the row behind described how events took a turn for the worse once the music stopped.

“When the applause broke out, the woman turned towards the man and said something,” Britt Aspenlind said. “The woman gave the younger man a slap right in his face. He became...