Alex Ross has a nifty post about good timing on the part of folks applauding a classical music performance. Alex's post puts me in mind of a radio recording I once had, taped from a live performance, of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust. After a bone-rattlingly electric performance of the "Racoczy March", one lone soul in the audience suddenly gave a single, exuberant clap of his hands. (If you wonder how a single clap could sound exuberant, this one did.) Of course, the rest of the audience was well aware that the Racoczy March doesn't come anywhere near a point when you'd applaud, but that didn't bother this guy. I imagine his cheeks reddened nicely, though.
And I also am reminded of one of the most endearing traditions in classical music: at the Vienna Philharmonic's annual New Year's Day concert, the second of the three encore numbers is always that most famous of Strauss waltzes, On the Beautiful Blue Danube. The work opens with a tremolo in the violins, played pianissimo, and the audience at that concert always erupts in applause at the first hearing of that tremolo. At this, the conductor turns and gives the audience his wishes for a happy New Year, and then he and the VPO return to the work of performing On the Beautiful Blue Danube.