When you listen to a song, there are just two ways that it can end. First, the song has a defined and proper ending. In other words, it’s written so that it comes to an agreed-upon conclusion–a way to stop. The other way a song might end is the fade-out. As song keeps going, it gets quieter and quieter until there’s nothing left but silence. I think that’s a little lazy, but that’s just me.
So here’s the question: who first decided that this would be an appropriate way to end a song? According to an uncited Wikipedia entry, it was an English classical composer named Gustav Holst whose direction for his orchestral suite, The Planets, stipulated that it be performed in such a way that the music and the choir faded into the distance. The year was 1918.