Jet Dee, a musician deeply influenced by the ideas of Glenn Gould, believes that the presence of audiences ruins classical musical performances:
Live musical performances, especially classical and art music concerts, are often delayed, marred, ruined, and spoiled by audience members who cough, hiss, wheeze, and even yell during events.
Gould seemed to have concurred in a 1962 article in Musical America called “Let’s Ban Applause!”
[I]n this article, the talented young man directly proposed a strange kind of idea under the guise of the uncomfortable (but pronounceable) acronym, GPAADAK — in other words, the Gould Plan for the Abolition of Applause and Demonstrations of All Kinds …
In this post, Dee goes on to investigate the tradition of applause itself:
Let us begin, for simplicity’s sake, with the basic element of applause within the context of a performance, or even any public gathering. One can think of several events in which one is asked not to applaud, for the basic rationale that the applause impedes the procession of the event.
She continues in impressive detail.
Clapping, something we think not at all about, is a fascination. At once contagious (one begins and the group takes over) and quite personal (each feels he or she is contributing). Its presence just as powerful as its absence, with typologies of etiquette continuing to grow up all around it. I suspect applaudless performances would be a spectacle, albeit a quiet one.