As promised yesterday.
Concertgoers in Sweden have been warned of possible violence at an upcoming performance this weekend, after a brawl broke out at a similar concert at the same venue earlier in the month.
You might be wondering which punk band or hippity-hop outfit were playing on the night of the brawl, but you’d be barking up completely the wrong musical genre, because it was Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons leading his Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony which triggered the appalling set-to.
Classical music is, of course, well-known for encouraging violence – one only has to consider Antonín Leopold Dvorák’s Serenade for wind instruments, cello and double bass in D minor Op. 44, B. 77 which is widely believed to have been one of the major catalysts for World War I.
And Mahler’s Fifth evidently still evokes those same aggressive tendencies.
Or maybe it’s not so much hearing the music as not being able to hear it:
A fist fight broke out at a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.5 in Malmö on Thursday night, after a listener was sent into a rage by another rustling a bag of gum.
Nothing unusual here. Apart from the fist fight bit, obviously. Concert audiences are regularly notoriously irritating to those of us who actually paid money to listen to the music rather than chatting to our friends or rustling a bag of gum.
What Happens Next Will Amaze You
At this point that the rustling on the second balcony became apparent, ruining the effect of the gently soaring strings and softly plucked harp for all sitting nearby.
After a few minutes, a young man sitting next to the woman with the chewing gum lost patience, snatched the bag from her hands and threw it to the floor.
And that was that. Well, at least for 70 minutes, it was.
70 minutes is a long time to sit and think about how you might react if someone has thrown your bag of gum on the floor. It’s widely believed that Lord Horatio Nelson took just 40 minutes to come up with his strategy to defeat the French and the Spanish in the Battle of Trafalgar, and that involved a revolutionary method of approaching the enemy in two columns, sailing perpendicular to their line -one towards the centre of the opposing line and one towards the trailing end – then breaking the enemy formation into three, surrounding one third, and forcing them to fight to the end. So one can only imagine what an extra half hour listening to Mahler’s Fifth could produce.
70 minutes is a long time to seethe and stew and plan. Especially when you don’t have any gum.
The moment the music stopped, she took her revenge.
“The woman gave the younger man a slap right in his face.”
Right. Well, I guess that what it lacks in the strategic complexity department, it makes up for in its pure simplicity – and power, apparently:
…the blow was powerful enough to knock the man’s glasses from his face.
He became angry and started fighting back.
And then it all went off.
The woman’s companion, an older man, then seized him by his shirt, and began to throw punches in his direction.
Olof Jönsson, who was sitting in the row behind, described the onslaught as “a violent attack: It was very unpleasant actually. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
But then, Olof has led a very sheltered life.
So how did this bloody rumpus end then?
Eventually, the other audience members managed to calm the two sides down and they went home.
This reaction proves a few things about the Swedish public. First off, that they are a peace-loving people, who (generally) abhor fighting at concerts. Secondly, that they’re generally quite dull and – having had a fight – will just head off home to bed, and thirdly, that they’re very thorough in their follow-through of these sort of incidents in checking that both parties actually do go home and don’t begin to kick off again at the bus stop.
“Leave ‘im, Magnus: ‘e ain’t werth it!”
Good for them.
So if you’re heading out to a concert in Scandinavia this weekend (and let’s face it, we’ve all done it, haven’t we?), please don’t rustle your gum bag.
It’ll all end in tears.