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Standing ovations for The Last Witnesses at the Burgtheater's guest performance at Schauspiel Frankfurt , 2015
Recording of applause in a medium-sized theater

Applause (since 1616 meaning " approval ") is the expression of approval or approval of a performance. In Europe and America applause is usually by clapping his hands (also: applause , from lat. Applaudere something something 'strike) made known. In Hungary there is rhythmic clapping. This phenomenon is called vastaps in Hungarian , which literally means 'iron clap'. Forms of increase are Bravo! - Shouts, especially in the opera (for female performers also Brava!, For several performers also Bravi! ), Whistles from the audience or the trampling of the feet. The exclamation Da capo! is also a means of applause by the audience; he asks the artist to repeat it. With intense applause, including the call for encore (English: encore !; Italian: bis!), The audience wants to get an encore. Other terms that describe applause are acclamation, jubilation, and ovation.

Standing ovations

Applause during the Texas State Society's Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball

In certain countries regularly, in German-speaking countries usually only with great enthusiasm and with a special salute connected, enters the long applause and standing up added (so-called standing ovation or standing (standing dargebrachter) applause ). The English expression standing ovation ( ovation from Latin ovatio , small triumph ', standing for participle' standing 'or' lasting ',' continuing ') is either adopted untranslated in German or rendered as a standing ovation ( pl. ).

In the case of standing ovations , a distinction must be made between enthusiasm for an artistic achievement on that evening and respect for a life's work. For example, the applause for The Last Witnesses was not a sign of bravado that evening, but rather respect for the personalities who survived the Nazi regime and a sign of gratitude that they had disclosed their life stories that evening.

To the emergence of applause while standing the can peer pressure as a possible cause use: If only a small number of rises of spectators, the rest of the audience feels usually obliged also to stand up, even if those viewers may not find them so excessive enthusiasm. It can also happen that viewers do not dare to stand up individually. Group coercion also plays a role here.

Beating and knocking

In the Middle Ages it was customary to hit the table with the palm of your hand and shout approvingly. This was a so-called Wacker , which means something like brave and efficient .

In academic circles instead of clapping the knuckles are tapped on desks or tables and very rarely trampled for reinforcement. This custom is probably a reverse of the drumming of the foxes , a way of letting a newcomer know the displeasure of the union by drumming with sticks on the ground, a way that emerged from student associations.

In some parliaments, too, it is customary to express applause by knocking.

In orchestras, strings express their applause by gently striking the bow on the music stand.

In billiards , recognition for a particularly successful push by the opponent is expressed by lightly knocking the cue on the board .

Applause in Asian cultures

In China , a person is sometimes greeted with applause. The visitor then politely claps back.

Compared to concert performances in western countries, the applause of the Asian audience, for example in India, Taiwan, Japan or China, can sometimes be quite subtle.

In some areas of the Far East, it is common to express applause by clicking your tongue .

Applause from the deaf

The hand clapping usually takes place at belly level, which means that this reaction is mainly heard and the person being applauded only sees the first row. Because of this restriction, deaf people have developed their own way of demonstrating consent. They show their applause by stretching their open hands over their heads and quickly turning them left and right at the wrist.


The person who is applauded has different ways of reacting to the applause: A common form of reaction in Western culture is a bow, which can even be indicated by lowering the head or nodding. Another possibility is to clap back demonstratively with your hands raised at head height in order to underline the importance of the role of the audience or to thank you for a particularly committed support during the lecture that goes beyond the normal range. If the type of presentation allows, long-lasting applause can also be rewarded with a planned or unplanned encore .

Lübeck Theater

In the concert and theater area, there are also applause orders that the actors practice beforehand. In traditional theatrical performances, the actors first receive the applause from the audience individually, and then present themselves again hand in hand as a group. Sometimes the stage curtain is also used to increase it and is raised and lowered again and again during the final applause. This creates the impression that the audience can "call back" the performers to the stage again and again with sustained applause. The success of a production is often measured by the number of curtains at the final applause during the premiere.

Here the conductor forwards the applause to a section leader .

In orchestral performances, the conductor (or concertmaster ) accepts the applause on his behalf. With gestures in the direction of the entire orchestra, the choir or individual instrument groups / soloists, he demonstratively forwards the applause to the performers and often asks the individual stops to stand up one after the other. He then often thanks the concertmaster. In addition, by repeatedly walking away and then reappearing, the impression of “calling back” can be created, similar to the theater.

Staged applause

At various events, the clapping is initiated by specially commissioned spectators, these are called claqueurs . Many television shows have so-called warm upper .

Web links

Wiktionary: Applause  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Applause  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th ed., Ed. by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 62.
  2. Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English (Sixth Edition), Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-431533-9 , p. 902: " ova-tion [...] standing ovation (~ in which people stand up from their seats) "
  3. Merriam-Webster : Entry "standing": 6: done from a standing position standing jump standing ovation , accessed June 11, 2012
  4. Collins: Pons Großwortbuch DE / ED, Klett, 91, p. 667, standing - ( duration ) duration - ( permanent ) constantly
  5. : Entry "Standing ovation" Standing Ovations Pl. , Accessed on June 11, 2012
  6. Duden-Oxford Standard Dictionary English (Dudenverlag Mannheim, Vienna, Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-411-02076-8 , p. 415): " ovation [...] a standing ~ : standing ovations"
  7. Friedhelm Golücke, "Studentensprachebuch", 4th ed., P. 261
  8. Alice Artzt: Applause! Translated into German by Berthold Baader. In: Guitar & Laute 5, 1983, issue 6, p. 400 f.