Alfred Brendel on Coughers, Clappers, Sneezers and Whistlers

Brendel is not just a celebrated pianist. He has published a number of essay and poetry collections. This poem is from his 1998 collection, One Finger Too Many (reproduced from here).

A Poem
The Coughers of Cologne
have joined forces with Cologne Clappers
and established the Cough and Clap Society
a non-profit-making organization
whose aim it is
to guarantee each concertgoer’s right
to cough and applaud
Attempts by unfeeling artists and impresarios
to question such privileges
have led to a Coughers and Clappers initiative
Members are required to applaud
immediately after sublime codas
and cough distinctly
during expressive silences
Distinct coughing is of paramount importance
to stifle or muffle it
forbidden on pain of expulsion
Coughers of outstanding tenacity
are awarded the Coughing Rhinemaiden
a handsome if slightly baroque appendage
to be worn around the neck
The C & C’ recent merger
with the New York Sneezers
and the London Whistlers
raises high hopes
for Cologne’s musical future.

Published on 14 August 2012

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