Orchestras have been belting out symphonies for hundreds of years, but new regulations to be introduced next year could see them silenced.
A new EU directive will lower the safe exposure limit in the workplace from 85 to 80 decibels from February 2006.
The Association of British Orchestras is seeking an exemption from the directive, fearing it could effectively quieten performances. A trumpet is said to reach noise levels of about 130dB.
Bars and clubs where loud music is played are expected to feel the brunt of the tougher limit, but lawyers believe City dealing rooms and call centres will also be affected.