The price of an encore

At a concert in London in December 1911, Rachmaninoff was received to great acclaim: perhaps a little too much from the orchestra's view point, who wanted to play the rest of their program:

The London Philharmonic Concert given on November 7, provided an object lesson in this study of the relation of applause to encores.  Rachmaninoff had played his Pianoforte Concerto in the first part, and afterwards he played in succession three solos, including the inevitable Prelude in C sharp minor.  It was late, and there was still to follow a Liszt Symphonic-poem.  But notwithstanding the directors' piteous and futile notice in the programme, asking the audience not to insist on encores which, as they truly say, "prevent many subscribers who live at a distance from remaining to the end," the effervescent and exasperating minority persisted in demanding a fourth solo, and they were allowed to have their own way.  We were careful to observe that the demand came from not more than one twentieth of the audience.  In whole rows of the stalls not one single hand was raised.  The consequence of the encore granted was that many of the audience were deprived of hearing one of the most magnificent performances of an orchestral work that have ever been given in the Queen's Hall, London, that of Liszt's Symphonic-poem "Les Préludes", under Mengelberg.


Musical Times, December 1911.  Cited in: Scholes, Percy (1947) The Mirror of Music: 1844-1944.  London: Novello, p. 220.