Carnegie Hall

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Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street. Built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1890, it is one of the most famous and significant venues for classical as well as popular music in the United States, known not just for its beauty and history but also for its acoustics. Carnegie Hall has its own artistic programming, development, and marketing departments and presents about 100 performances each season; it is also rented out to performing groups. It has no resident company, though the New York Philharmonic officially resided at Carnegie Hall until 1962.


[edit] Performing arts venues

Carnegie Hall contains three distinct, separate concert halls: the Main Hall, the Recital Hall and the Chamber Music Hall.

[edit] The Main Hall

The Main Hall is greatly admired for its warm, live acoustics, and it is commonplace for critics to express regret that the New York Philharmonic plays at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center and not in its former home in Carnegie Hall. "It has been said that the hall itself is an instrument," the late Isaac Stern once remarked. "It takes what you do and makes it larger than life."<ref></ref>

The Main Hall is enormously tall, and visitors to the top balcony must climb 105 steps. All but the top level can be reached by elevator.<ref></ref>

Most of the greatest performers of classical music since the time the hall was built have performed in the Main Hall, and its lobbies are adorned with signed portraits and memorabilia.<ref></ref>

[edit] The smaller halls

  • Zankel Hall, which seats 599, is named for Judy and Arthur Zankel. Originally called simply "Recital Hall," this was the first auditorium to open to the public in April, 1891. Following renovations made in 1896, it was renamed Carnegie Lyceum. It was leased to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1898, converted to a cinema around 1959, and was reclaimed to be used as an auditorium in 1997. The newly reconstructed hall opened in September 2003. Because of its location below street level, passing subways can be heard through the walls.
  • Weill Recital Hall, which seats 268, is named for Sanford I. Weill, the chairman of Carnegie Hall's board, and his wife Joan. This auditorium, in use since the hall opened in 1891, was originally called "Chamber Music Hall" (later Carnegie Chamber Music Hall); the name was changed to Carnegie Recital Hall in the late 1940s, and finally became Weill Recital Hall in 1986.

[edit] Other facilities

The building also contains the Carnegie Hall Archives, established in 1986, and the Rose Museum, which opened in 1991.

[edit] Architecture

Carnegie Hall was designed in a revivalist brick and brownstone Italian Renaissance style by William Tuthill, an amateur cellist who performed with the Oratorio Society of New York. Richard Morris Hunt and Dankmar Adler aided as consultants.<ref></ref> Although Tuthill's is not a familiar name, the success of the building is largely due to his design.

Carnegie Hall is one of the last large buildings in New York built entirely of masonry, without a steel frame; however, when several flights of studio spaces were added to the building near the turn of the 20th century, a steel framework was erected around segments of the building. The exterior is rendered in narrow "Roman" bricks of a mellow ochre hue, with details in terracotta and brownstone. The foyer avoids contemporary Baroque theatrics with a high-minded exercise in the Florentine Renaissance manner of Filippo Brunelleschi's Pazzi Chapel: white plaster and gray stone form a harmonious system of round-headed arched openings and Corinthian pilasters that support an unbroken cornice, with round-headed lunettes above it, under a vaulted ceiling. The famous white and gold interior is similarly restrained.

[edit] History

Carnegie Hall is named after Andrew Carnegie, who paid for its construction. It was intended as a venue for the Oratorio Society of New York and the New York Symphony Society, on whose boards Carnegie served. Construction began in 1890, and was carried out by Isaac A. Hopper and Company. Although the building was in use from April 1891, the official opening night was on May 5, with a concert conducted by maestro Walter Damrosch and composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Originally known simply as "Music Hall" (the words "Music Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie" still appear on the façade above the marquee), the hall was renamed Carnegie Hall in 1893 after board members of the Music Hall Company of New York (the hall's original governing body) persuaded Carnegie to allow the use of his name. Several alterations were made to the building between 1893 and 1896, including the addition of two towers of artists' studios, and alterations to the auditorium on the building's lower level.

The hall was owned by the Carnegie family until 1925, when Carnegie's widow sold it to a real estate developer, Robert E. Simon. When Simon died in 1935, his son, Robert E. Simon Jr. took over. By the mid-1950s, changes in the music business prompted Simon to offer Carnegie Hall for sale to the New York Philharmonic, which booked a majority of the hall's concert dates each year. The orchestra declined, since they planned to move to Lincoln Center, then in the early stages of planning. At the time, it was widely believed that New York City could not support two major concert venues. Facing the loss of the hall's primary tenant, Simon was forced to offer the building for sale. A deal with a commercial developer fell through, and by 1960, with the New York Philharmonic on the move to Lincoln Center, the building was slated for demolition to make way for a commercial skyscraper. Under pressure from a group led by violinist Isaac Stern, special legislation was passed that allowed the city of New York to buy the site from Simon for $5 million, and in May of 1960 the nonprofit Carnegie Hall Corporation was created to run the venue. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

[edit] Renovations and additions

The building was extensively renovated in 1983 and 2003, by James Polshek, who became better known through his post-modern planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Polshek and his firm, Polshek Partnership, was involved since 1978 in four phases of the Hall's renovation and expansion including the creation of a Master Plan in 1980; the actual renovation of the main hall, the Stern Auditorium, and the creation of the Weill Recital Hall and Kaplan Rehearsal Space, all in 1987; the creation of the Rose Museum, East Room and Club Room (later renamed Rohatyn Room and Shorin Club Room, respectively), all in 1991; and, most recently, the creation of Zankel Hall in 2003.

The renovation was not without controversy. Following completion of work on the main auditorium in 1986, there were complaints that the famous acoustics of the hall had been diminished. Although officials involved in the renovation denied that there was any change, complaints persisted for the next nine years. In 1995 the cause of the problem was discovered to be a slab of concrete under the stage. The slab was subsequently removed.

In 1987-1989, a 60-floor office tower, named Carnegie Hall Tower, was completed next to the hall on the same block. New backstage space and banquet spaces, contained within the tower, connect with the main Carnegie Hall building.

In June of 2003, tentative plans were made for the Philharmonic to return to Carnegie Hall beginning in 2006, and for the orchestra to merge its business operations with those of the venue. However, these plans were called off later in 2003.

[edit] Management

The Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall (from July 2005) is Sir Clive Gillinson, formerly managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

[edit] The Carnegie Hall Archives

Unexpectedly, for most concert-goers, it emerged in 1986 that Carnegie Hall had never consistently maintained an archive. Without a central repository, a significant portion of Carnegie Hall's documented history had been dispersed. In preparation for the celebration of Carnegie Hall's centennial (1991), the Carnegie Hall Archives was established. Advertisements and stories in the media about how Carnegie Hall was scouring basements and attics to recover its history elicited an overwhelming response from the public, who had been keeping their old programs: artifacts began arriving from all over the world. Vast amounts of material, including over 12,000 programs, have been recovered, enabling the Archives to document much of Carnegie Hall's history.

[edit] World premieres at Carnegie Hall

[edit] Location and folklore

  • Carnegie Hall is located at the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.
  • A venerable legend has become part of the folklore of the hall: Arthur Rubinstein was once approached in the street near Carnegie Hall, and asked, "Pardon me sir, but how do I get to Carnegie Hall?" He replied, "Practice." The Directions page of the Carnegie Hall Web site gently alludes to the joke.
  • When Fritz Kreisler was performing a recital with Sergei Rachmaninoff, he lost his place in the music, and asked Rachmaninoff, "Where are we?" To which Rachmaninoff replied, "In Carnegie Hall."

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References


  • Richard Schickel, The World of Carnegie Hall, 1960, recounts all the lore.

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Carnegie Hall

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