Carnegie_Hall-Cultureify

Pictured above:  Carnegie Hall

CULTUREIFY

The majestic history of the world-class Carnegie Hall was launched in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

It was the spring of 1887, and newlyweds Andrew Carnegie and his wife Louise Whitfield were honeymooning to Scotland from New York. On board the ship was 25-year-old Walter Damrosch, conductor and musical director of the Symphony Society of New York and the Oratorio Society of New York, who was traveling to Europe for a summer of study.

During the course of the voyage, the trio struck up a friendship and the newlyweds invited Damrosch to join them in Scotland. While in Scotland, Damrosch shared his dream of a new concert hall in New York City.

With a keen interest in such an endeavor, Carnegie donated to the project and the idea of Carnegie Hall was set into motion and soon transformed into a reality.  Since then, the venerable concert hall has seen some of the world’s greatest artists pass through its doors.

Following his return to the United States, Carnegie established The Music Hall Company of New York, Ltd., purchasing parcels of land along Seventh Avenue between 56th and 57th streets, and he hired chief architect William Burnet Tuthill.  The location that Carnegie selected for the Music Hall was near Central Park. The plans for the Hall featured a rectangular six-story structure, housing three performance spaces: the Main Hall, seating 2,800; the Recital Hall located below the Main Hall, seating 1,200; and, adjacent to the Main Hall, the 250-seat Chamber Music Hall.  Above the Chamber Music Hall were assembly rooms which for lectures, readings, and receptions, as well as chapter and lodge rooms for secret organizations.

The edifice was designed using heavy brick and masonry with interior Guastavino vaulting. The building, completed in the spring of 1891, resembled an Italian Renaissance–style façade composed of terra cotta and iron-spotted brick. A five-day opening event beginning on May 5, 1891, fêted the who’s who of New York society,  from the Whitney’s to the Rockefeller’s who paid from $1 to $2 to hear performances by the Symphony and Oratorio societies under the direction of Damrosch and famed Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It’s said horse-drawn carriages awaited in a quarter-mile line-up for the gala event.  Following an extended dedication speech from Bishop Henry Codman Potter, Damrosch led the Symphony Society in playing “America” and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3. Tchaikovsky was also at the podium to conduct.   Is was clear, the Music Hall, founded by Andrew Carnegie,  was an overwhelming success.

It was during  1894-1895, season, that the Board of Trustees dropped the Music Hall moniker as the name suggested a vaudeville palace rather than a location intent on sharing serious musical art and officially named the venue in honor of its benefactor.

Timeline

1887 Andrew Carnegie meets Walter Damrosch Andrew Carnegie expresses interest in backing the construction of a new concert hall for New York City.

1889 Carnegie organizes the Music Hall Company of New York

Andrew Carnegie organizes the Music Hall Company of New York.

1890 The cornerstone is cemented into place

The cornerstone of the new music hall is ceremonially cemented into place.

1891 Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opens

Andrew Carnegie’s new Music Hall opens with a five-day music festival beginning on May 5.

1891 Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski makes his US debut

Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski makes his US debut at Carnegie Hall on November 17.

1891 Walter Damrosch leads Carnegie Hall’s first children’s concert

Walter Damrosch leads the New York Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall’s first children’s concert on December 30.

1892 Sissieretta Jones performs

On June 15, soprano Sissieretta Jones performs in the lower-level Recital Hall (today’s Zankel Hall).

1892 The Urania Astronomical Society of Berlin presents lectures

The Urania Astronomical Society of Berlin presents scientific lectures and demonstrations that run for nearly 100 performances at Carnegie Hall in 1892 and 1893.

1893 Adelina Patti makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Adelina Patti, one of the most celebrated sopranos of the mid-19th century, makes her Carnegie Hall debut on November 18.

1893 Dvořák’s New World Symphony is given its first hearing

Dvořák’s New World Symphony is given its first hearing on a “public rehearsal” on December 15.

1893 “March King” John Philip Sousa’s Carnegie Hall debut

“March King” John Philip Sousa leads his Grand Concert Band in his Carnegie Hall debut on January 23.

1893 The Music Hall becomes Carnegie Hall

The board of the Music Hall Company persuades Andrew Carnegie to allow the use of the name “Carnegie Hall.”

1894 Eugène Ysaÿe makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe makes his Carnegie Hall debut on November 16.

1894 Nellie Melba makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Australian soprano Nellie Melba makes her Carnegie Hall debut on April 23.

1894 The original building is altered

The original building is altered through the first of two additions of artists’ studios, which are intended to provide extra income for the building.

1896 A second, round of additions

The Music Hall board announces a second, round of additions to the building.

1896 Booker T. Washington and President Grover Cleveland speak

Educator, author, and civic leader Booker T. Washington speaks at a Presbyterian Home Missions Rally on March 3, sharing the stage with President Grover Cleveland.

1898 Josef Hofmann makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Pianist Josef Hofmann makes his Carnegie Hall debut on March 3.

1898 The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut on March 7.

1900 Fritz Kreisler makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Violinist Fritz Kreisler makes his Carnegie Hall debut on December 7, with the New York Philharmonic, Emil Paur, conductor.

1901 Winston Churchill gives a lecture on the Boer War

26-year-old Winston Churchill gives a lecture on the Boer War on January 31 entitled “The War as I Saw It.”

1902 The Kneisel Quartet presents a full program in the main auditorium

On February 23, the Kneisel Quartet becomes the first string quartet to present a full program in Carnegie Hall’s main auditorium.

1904 Pablo Casals makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Cellist Pablo Casals makes his Carnegie Hall debut on February 15.

1904 Strauss conducts the world premiere of Symphonia Domestica

On March 21, Richard Strauss conducts the world premiere of his Symphonia Domestica on the fifth of seven Carnegie Hall appearances.

1906 Arthur Rubinstein makes his US debut

Pianist Arthur Rubinstein makes his US debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra on January 8.

1906 Camille Saint-Saëns plays the organ on his Symphony No. 3

Camille Saint-Saëns plays the organ on his Symphony No. 3.

1906 Maud Powell gives the US premiere of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto

Violinist Maud Powell gives the US premiere of Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto on November 30.

1908 The US Premiere of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”

Gustav Mahler conducts the New York Symphony Orchestra and the Oratorio Society of New York in the US Premiere of his Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” on December 8.

1908 The US premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin

The US premiere of Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin is given in concert form on February 1.

1908 Women’s suffrage leaders speak at Carnegie Hall

Women’s suffrage leaders Carrie Chapman Catt and Ethel Snowden speak at Carnegie Hall at a “Woman Suffrage Mass Meeting” on December 4.

1909 Sergei Rachmaninoff makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff makes his Carnegie Hall debut on November 13.

1911 John McCormack makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Tenor John McCormack makes his Carnegie Hall debut on February 26.

1912 James Reese Europe and his Clef Club Orchestra perform

James Reese Europe and his Clef Club Orchestra bring jazz in its earliest form to Carnegie Hall with a “Concert of Negro Music.”

1912 Theodore Roosevelt speaks at Carnegie Hall

During his unsuccessful campaign to regain the US presidency, Theodore Roosevelt speaks at Carnegie Hall on March 20.

1913 Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen speaks at Carnegie Hall

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who led the first successful expedition to the South Pole.

1914 Leopold Stokowski makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Leopold Stokowski makes his Carnegie Hall debut on January 21.

1917 Jascha Heifetz makes his American debut

The 16-year-old violinist Jascha Heifetz makes his heralded American debut at Carnegie Hall on October 27.

1917 Jeanette Rankin speaks at Carnegie Hall

Jeanette Rankin, the first woman member of Congress, speaks at Carnegie Hall on March 2.

1918 Enrico Caruso makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Legendary tenor Enrico Caruso makes his Carnegie Hall debut on April 30.

1918 Sergei Prokofiev conducts the US Premiere of his First Symphony

On December 11, composer Sergei Prokofiev conducts the US Premiere of his First Symphony.

1919 Andrew Carnegie dies

Andrew Carnegie dies on August 11. Majority ownership of Carnegie Hall passes to his widow, Louise.

1919 President Woodrow Wilson speaks

On July 8 at Carnegie Hall, President Woodrow Wilson gives his first report regarding the Treaty of Versailles.

1920 Carnegie Hall’s exterior masonry steps are removed

When the city decides to widen 57th Street due to increased vehicular and retail traffic, Carnegie Hall’s exterior masonry steps are removed.

1921 Charlie Chaplin presents the world premiere of his film The Kid

Charlie Chaplin presents the world premiere of his film The Kid on January 21.

1921 Gustav Holst’s The Planets is given its New York premiere

Gustav Holst’s The Planets is given its New York premiere on December 29.

1921 “The Open Door” A Negro Pageant is presented at Carnegie Hall

“The Open Door” A Negro Pageant with Music, Symbolic of the History of the Negro Race is presented at Carnegie Hall on November 22.

1924 Henry Cowell gives a recital of his own compositions

Maverick composer and pianist Henry Cowell gives a recital of his own compositions on February 4.

1925 George Gershwin premieres his Concerto in F

George Gershwin performs the world premiere of his own Concerto in F.

1925 Igor Stravinsky makes his US debut

Igor Stravinsky makes his US debut conducting the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on January 8.

1925 Mrs. Carnegie sells Carnegie Hall

Mrs. Carnegie sells Carnegie Hall to real estate developer Robert E. Simon.

1927 Béla Bartók makes his US debut

Composer Béla Bartók makes his US debut on December 22.

1927 George Antheil presents the US premiere of Ballet mécanique

Composer George Antheil, the self-styled “bad boy of music,” presents the US premiere of his Ballet mécanique on April 10.

1927 Yehudi Menuhin makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Eleven-year-old violinist Yehudi Menuhin makes his Carnegie Hall debut on November 25.

1928 Léon Theremin presents a concert of his “Music from the Ether”

Léon Theremin presents a concert of his “Music from the Ether” on February 14.

1928 Marian Anderson makes her Carnegie Hall recital debut

Contralto Marian Anderson makes her Carnegie Hall recital debut on December 30.

1928 The American Symphonic Ensemble performs

The American Symphonic Ensemble, the first “conductorless” ensemble in the US, performs on November 3.

1928 Vladimir Horowitz and Sir Thomas Beecham make their US debuts

Pianist Vladimir Horowitz and conductor Sir Thomas Beecham make their US debuts with the New York Philharmonic on January 12.

1929 Paul Robeson makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Paul Robeson makes his Carnegie Hall debut on November 5.

1930 The US premiere of Alban Berg’s Three Fragments from Wozzeck

Erich Kleiber conducts the U.S. premiere of Alban Berg’s Three Fragments from Wozzeck on October 16.

1934 Albert Einstein is honored at Carnegie Hall
Albert Einstein is honored at Carnegie Hall on April 1.

1935 Antonia Brico makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Conductor Antonia Brico makes her Carnegie Hall debut on November 12.

1936 Artur Schnabel performs all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas

Artur Schnabel performs all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas in a series of seven concerts between January 15 and February 26.

1936 Arturo Toscanini gives his farewell concert

Conductor Arturo Toscanini gives his farewell concert as director of the New York Philharmonic on April 29.

1936 World premiere of Varèse’s Density 21.5

Flutist Georges Barrère gives the world premiere of Edgard Varèse’s Density 21.5 on February 16.

1937 Ernest Hemingway speaks at the American Writers Congress

Author Ernest Hemingway speaks at the American Writers Congress at Carnegie Hall on June 4.

1937 US premiere of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta

Conductor John Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic give the US premiere of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta at Carnegie Hall on October 28.

1938 Benny Goodman and his orchestra make their Carnegie Hall debut

Benny Goodman and his orchestra make their Carnegie Hall debut on January 16.

1938 From Spirituals to Swing

On December 23, producer John Hammond assembles an extraordinary cast of more than 40 performers for a concert called From Spirituals to Swing.

1939 Saxophonist Sigurd Rascher performs

On November 11, Sigurd Rascher gives the New York premiere of Jacques Ibert’s Concertino da Camera.

1943 Duke Ellington and his Orchestra perform at Carnegie Hall

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra perform at Carnegie Hall for the first time on January 23.

1943 Isaac Stern makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Isaac Stern makes his Carnegie Hall recital debut on January 8, beginning his nearly 60-year relationship with the Hall.

1943 Leonard Bernstein makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Leonard Bernstein makes his Carnegie Hall debut on November 14

1946 Andrés Segovia makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Guitarist Andrés Segovia makes his Carnegie Hall debut on January 13.

1946 World premiere of Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto

Clarinetist Woody Herman and His Orchestra give the world premiere of Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto on March 25.

1947 Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald make their debuts

On September 29, bebop comes to Carnegie Hall for the first time when Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald all make their Carnegie Hall debuts.

1947 Ernest Tubb and stars from the Grand Ole Opry perform

Ernest Tubb and stars from the Grand Ole Opry present the first program of country music at Carnegie Hall on September 18.

1947 Louis Armstrong performs
Louis Armstrong makes his Carnegie Hall debut as a headliner on February 8.

1947 Renovations and improvements

Robert Simon Jr., president of Carnegie Hall, Inc., authorizes the expenditure of more than $75,000 in renovations and improvements.

1948 Billie Holiday makes her Carnegie Hall debut as a headliner

Billie Holiday makes her first Carnegie Hall appearance as a headliner on March 27.

1949 The first televised concert in Carnegie Hall’s history takes place

The first televised concert in Carnegie Hall’s history takes place on December 10.

1950 Mahalia Jackson makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Mahalia Jackson makes her Carnegie Hall debut on October 1.

1955 Bill Haley and his Comets perform

Bill Haley and his Comets perform on a variety benefit concert on May 6, becoming the first rock ‘n’ roll band to appear at Carnegie Hall.

1955 Bo Diddley, Etta James, and others perform in “Top Ten Revue”

Bo Diddley, Etta James, and others perform in “Top Ten Revue” on October 29.

1955 The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut on March 1 with conductor Herbert von Karajan.

1955 The Weavers play at Carnegie Hall

The Weavers play Carnegie Hall on December 24.

1955 The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut on November 7.

1957 Glenn Gould makes his Carnegie Hall recital debut
Pianist Glenn Gould makes his Carnegie Hall recital debut on December 7.

1957 The Thelonious Monk Quartet featuring John Coltrane performs

The Thelonious Monk Quartet, featuring saxophonist John Coltrane, performs on a benefit concert on November 29.

1958 Van Cliburn gives a triumphant homecoming performance

After winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, pianist Van Cliburn gives a triumphant homecoming performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano concerto.

1959 Maria Callas makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Soprano Maria Callas makes her Carnegie Hall debut on January 27.

1960 Carnegie Hall is saved from demolition

The City of New York purchases Carnegie Hall to rescue it from demolition.

1960 Sviatoslav Richter makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Pianist Sviatoslav Richter makes his Carnegie Hall debut on October 19.

1960 The New York Philharmonic celebrates the saving of Carnegie Hall

On September 27, the New York Philharmonic celebrates the saving of Carnegie Hall with a special opening night concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein and featuring violinist Isaac Stern.

1961 Bob Dylan makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Bob Dylan makes his Carnegie Hall debut with a November 4 performance in Carnegie Chapter Hall.

1961 Carnegie Hall debuts of Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne

Soprano Joan Sutherland and mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne make their Carnegie Hall debuts on March 1.

1961 Judy Garland makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Judy Garland makes her Carnegie Hall debut on April 23.

1961 Patsy Cline makes her Carnegie Hall debut

Patsy Cline makes her Carnegie Hall debut on November 29.

1961 Yoko Ono presents a program of her own compositions

Yoko Ono presents a program of her own compositions in Carnegie Recital Hall (today’s Weill Recital Hall) on November 21.

1962 Johnny Cash makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Johnny Cash makes his Carnegie Hall debut on May 10.

1962 Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett make their Carnegie Hall debuts

Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett make their Carnegie Hall debuts on March 5.

1964 Carnegie Hall is declared a National Historic Landmark

Carnegie Hall is declared a National Historic Landmark.

1964 The Beatles perform two concerts

The Beatles perform two concerts on February 12.

1965 Leontyne Price makes her Carnegie Hall recital debut

Soprano Leontyne Price makes her Carnegie Hall recital debut on February 28.

1965 World premiere of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4

On April 26, Leopold Stokowski leads the American Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4.

1966 Further interior upgrades are made

Carnegie Hall makes further interior upgrades.

1966 Plácido Domingo makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Tenor Plácido Domingo makes his Carnegie Hall debut on November 15.

1967 Carnegie Hall is declared a New York City landmark

Carnegie Hall is declared a New York City landmark.

1967 US premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Perpetuum mobile

Lukas Foss leads the Buffalo Philharmonic in the U.S. premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Perpetuum mobile on May 7.

1968 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the keynote speaker at a February 23 benefit marking the 100th birthday of W. E. B. DuBois.

1971 Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention make their debut

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention make their Carnegie Hall debut on October 11.

1971 Yo-Yo Ma makes his Carnegie Hall debut

16-year-old cellist Yo-Yo Ma makes his Carnegie Hall debut in Carnegie Recital Hall (today’s Weill Recital Hall) on May 6.

1972 David Bowie makes his Carnegie Hall debut

David Bowie makes his Carnegie Hall debut on September 28.

1972 Groucho Marx makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Groucho Marx makes his Carnegie Hall debut on May 6.

1973 Luciano Pavarotti makes his Carnegie Hall debut

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti makes his Carnegie Hall debut on February 18.

1974 Maria Callas gives her farewell performance

Maria Callas gives her farewell performance on April 15.

1976 The Concert of the Century

The Concert of the Century, a May 18 benefit concert for Carnegie Hall, features performances by Vladimir Horowitz, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Leonard Bernstein and others.

1979 Liza Minnelli makes her Carnegie Hall debut

On September 4, Liza Minnelli performs at Carnegie Hall for the first time.

1983 The New York Pops makes its Carnegie Hall debut

The New York Pops makes its debut at Carnegie Hall on April 8.

1985 Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Melle Mel perform

Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Melle Mel perform on an October 31 benefit.

1985 Carnegie Hall launches its first education program

Carnegie Hall launches Link Up, its first education program.

1986 Full interior renovation completed

An extensive project that began in 1983 culminates in a full interior renovation of Carnegie Hall.

1986 Olivier Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise

The New York premiere of three tableaux from Messiaen’s opera, Saint François d’Assise, is given on April 16.

1988 Celebrating Irving Berlin’s 100th birthday

On May 11, an all-star cast celebrates Irving Berlin’s 100th birthday in a televised gala event.

1990 Onward – See Timeline/Carnegie Hall

 

 

Resources:

Carnegie Hall , “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.

“National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.

https://web.archive.org/web/20141129041308/http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Photos/66000535.pdf

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