Q: When are standing ovations a proper expression of appreciation? Are they meant to express appreciation for the musical composition itself or for the musicians performance of it? Standing ovations seem to have become the norm at recitals and chamber music performances, etc. and no longer seem to be reserved for truly exceptional performances.
A: When audiences are moved by a performance, they applaud it, often rising to their feet to show their true appreciation. You would have to interview each to find out what he or she is applauding. Usually, it is for the performance of the music, although compelling music, when performed well, is part of the appreciation. There is no accounting for what an audience considers exceptional, so if you are on the receiving end, simply be happy if an ovation is sent your way.