Symphonic premiere canceled as EU workplace-noise violation

by Walter Olson on April 24, 2008

The newly composed work tested at 97.4 decibels, so the performance by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra was called off. “The cancellation is, so far, probably the most extreme consequence of the new law, which requires employers in Europe to limit workers’ exposure to potentially damaging noise and which took effect for the entertainment industry this month.” (Sarah Lyall, “No Fortissimo? Symphony Told to Keep It Down”, New York Times, Apr. 20). For more on British and EU workplace-noise rules and their application to Scottish bagpipes, barking police dogs, gunfire during infantry training, military brass bands, and so forth, see Nov. 19, 2005.

{ 3 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 04.25.08 at 10:17 am

If only the EU were around in the 18th century Beethoven would not have become deaf.

2 Douglas McKinnie 04.25.08 at 1:28 pm

Was that 97.4 peak, or averaged over what length of time? And how was it weighted?
I suspect, reading between the lines from having worked with classical musicians and amplified music, that had the musicians liked the work no attention would have been drawn to how loud it was. But having a severe and enforced noise regulation allows the director to say that the cancellation was not an artistic decision and that he had no choice.

3 Richard Nieporent 04.26.08 at 2:30 am

Of course, the fact that no orchestra would have been allowed to play Beethoven’s symphonies would have driven him mad.

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