|Address||881 Seventh Avenue (at 57th Street)|
New York City
|Public transit||Subway: 57th Street–Seventh Avenue |
|Owner||City of New York|
|Operator||Carnegie Hall Corporation|
|Capacity||Stern Auditorium: 2,804|
Zankel Hall: 599
Weill Recital Hall: 268
|Architectural style||Renaissance Revival|
|NRHP reference No.||66000535|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||December 29, 1962|
|Designated NYCL||June 20, 1967|
Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music. Carnegie Hall has its own artistic programming, development, and marketing departments and presents about 250 performances each season. It is also rented out to performing groups. The hall has not had a resident company since 1962, when the New York Philharmonic moved to Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall (renamed Avery Fisher Hall in 1973 and David Geffen Hall in 2015).
Carnegie Hall has 3,671 seats, divided among three auditoriums. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building as a city landmark in 1967.
Carnegie Hall is on the east side of Seventh Avenue between 56th Street and 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park, in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. The site covers 27,618 square feet (2,565.8 m2). Its lot is 200 feet (61 m) wide, covering the entire width of the block between 56th Street to the south and 57th Street to the north, and extends 150 feet (46 m) eastward from Seventh Avenue.
Carnegie Hall shares the city block with the Carnegie Hall Tower, Russian Tea Room, and Metropolitan Tower to the east. It is cater-corner from the Osborne Apartments. It also faces the Rodin Studios and 888 Seventh Avenue to the west; Alwyn Court, the Louis H. Chalif Normal School of Dancing, and One57 to the north; the Park Central Hotel to the southwest; and the CitySpire Center to the southeast. Right outside the hall is an entrance to the New York City Subway's 57th Street–Seventh Avenue station, served by the N, Q, R, and W trains.
Carnegie Hall is part of an artistic hub that developed around the two blocks of West 57th Street from Sixth Avenue west to Broadway during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its opening in 1891 directly contributed to the development of the hub. The area contains several buildings constructed as residences for artists and musicians, such as 130 and 140 West 57th Street, the Osborne Apartments, and the Rodin Studios. In addition, the area contained the headquarters of organizations such as the American Fine Arts Society, the Lotos Club, and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Architecture and venues
Carnegie Hall is composed of three structures arranged in an "L" shape; each structure contains one of the hall's performance spaces. The original building, which houses the Isaac Stern Auditorium, is an eight-story rectangular building, designed by William Tuthill at the corner of 7th Avenue and 57th Street. The 16-story eastern wing contains the Weill Recital Hall and is located along 57th Street. The 13-story southern wing, at 7th Avenue and 56th Street, contains Zankel Hall.
Main Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
The Isaac Stern Auditorium seats 2,804 on five levels and was named after violinist Isaac Stern in 1997 to recognize his efforts to save the hall from demolition in the 1960s. The hall is six stories high with five levels of seating; visitors to the top balcony must climb 137 steps. All but the top level can be reached by elevator.
The main hall was home to the performances of the New York Philharmonic from 1892 until 1962. Known as the most prestigious concert stage in the US, almost all of the leading classical music and, more recently, popular music performers since 1891 have performed there. After years of heavy wear and tear, the hall was extensively renovated in 1986.
The Ronald O. Perelman Stage is 42 feet deep. The five levels of seating in the Stern Auditorium begin with the Parquet level, which has twenty-five full rows of thirty-eight seats and four partial rows at stage level, for a total of 1,021 seats. The First Tier and Second Tier consist of sixty-five boxes; the First Tier has 264 seats at eight seats per box and the Second Tier seats 238, with boxes ranging from six to eight seats each. Second from the top is the Dress Circle, seating 444 in six rows; the first two rows form an almost-complete semicircle. At the top, the balcony seats 837. Although seats with obstructed views exist throughout the auditorium, only the Dress Circle level has structural columns.
Zankel Hall, which seats 599, is named after 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 and converted into a cinema, which opened as the Carnegie Hall Cinema in May 1961 with the film White Nights by Luchino Visconti. It was reclaimed for use as a performance space in 1997. The completely reconstructed Zankel Hall is flexible in design and can be reconfigured in several different arrangements to suit the needs of the performers. It opened in September 2003.
The 599 seats in Zankel Hall are arranged in two levels. The parterre level seats a total of 463 and the mezzanine level seats 136. Each level has a number of seats which are situated along the side walls, perpendicular to the stage. These seats are designated as boxes; there are 54 seats in six boxes on the parterre level and 48 seats in four boxes on the mezzanine level. The boxes on the parterre level are raised above the level of the stage. Zankel Hall is accessible and its stage is 44 feet wide and 25 feet deep—the stage occupies approximately one fifth of the performance space.
Weill Recital Hall
The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Recital Hall seats 268 and is named after Sanford I. Weill, a former chairman of the 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 Joan and Sanford I. Weill Recital Hall in 1986.
The Weill Recital Hall is the smallest of the three performance spaces, with a total of 268 seats. The Orchestra level contains fourteen rows of fourteen seats, a total of 196, and the Balcony level contains 72 seats in five rows.
The building also contains the Carnegie Hall Archives, established in 1986, and the Rose Museum, which opened in 1991. Until 2009 studios above the Hall contained working spaces for artists in the performing and graphic arts including music, drama, dance, as well as architects, playwrights, literary agents, photographers and painters. The spaces were unusual in being purpose-designed for artistic work, with very high ceilings, skylights and large windows for natural light. In 2007 the Carnegie Hall Corporation announced plans to evict the 33 remaining studio residents, some of whom had been in the building since the 1950s, including celebrity portrait photographer Editta Sherman and fashion photographer Bill Cunningham. The organization's research showed that Andrew Carnegie had always considered the spaces as a source of income to support the hall and its activities. The space has been re-purposed for music education and corporate offices.
Founding and early 20th century
Carnegie Hall is named after Andrew Carnegie, who funded 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 May 5, with a concert conducted by Walter Damrosch and Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
By the 1950s, changes in the music business prompted Simon to sell the hall. In April 1955, Simon negotiated with the New York Philharmonic, which booked a majority of the hall's concert dates each year. The orchestra planned to move to Lincoln Center, then in the early stages of planning. Simon notified the Philharmonic that he would terminate the lease by 1959 if it did not purchase Carnegie Hall. Simon sold the entire stock of Carnegie Hall Inc., the venue's legal owner, to commercial developer Glickman Corporation in July 1956 for $5 million. With the Philharmonic on the move to Lincoln Center, the building was slated for demolition to make way for a 44-story skyscraper designed by Pomerance and Breines. However, Glickman was unable to come up with the $22 million construction budget for the skyscraper. This, combined with delays in Lincoln Center's construction, prompted Glickman to decline an option to buy the building itself.
Meanwhile, soon after the sale, Simon started planning the hall's preservation, approaching some of the hall's artist residents. Violinist Isaac Stern enlisted his friends Jacob M. and Alice Kaplan, as well as J. M. Kaplan Fund administrator Raymond S. Rubinow, for assistance in saving the hall. Stern, the Kaplans, and Rubinow ultimately decided that the best move would be for the city government to become involved. The move gained support from mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr.. In early 1960, special legislation was passed, allowing the city government to buy the site from Simon for $5 million, which he would use to establish Reston, Virginia. The city then leased the hall to the nonprofit Carnegie Hall Corporation, which was created to run the venue. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
Late 20th and early 21st century
The building was extensively renovated in 1986 and 2003 by James Stewart Polshek, who became better known through his post-modern planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Polshek and his firm, Polshek Partnership, were 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 1986; 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.
Work started in February 1982 with the restoration and reconstruction of the recital hall and studio entrance. 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 June 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, the two groups abandoned these plans later in 2003.
In 2014, Carnegie Hall opened its Judith and Burton Resnick Education Wing, which houses 24 music rooms, one of which is large enough to hold an orchestra or a chorus. The $230 million project was funded with gifts from Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Fund, Judith and Burton Resnick, Lily Safra and other donors, as well as $52.2 million from the city, $11 million from the state and $56.5 million from bonds issued through the Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York.
Most of the greatest performers of classical music since the time Carnegie Hall was built have performed in the Main Hall, and its lobbies are adorned with signed portraits and memorabilia. The NBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, frequently recorded in the Main Hall for RCA Victor. On November 14, 1943, the 25-year old Leonard Bernstein had his major conducting debut when he had to substitute for a suddenly ill Bruno Walter in a concert that was broadcast by CBS, making him instantly famous. In late 1950, the orchestra's weekly broadcast concerts were moved there until the orchestra disbanded in 1954. Several of the concerts were televised by NBC, preserved on kinescopes, and have been released on home video.
Many legendary jazz and popular music performers have also given memorable performances at Carnegie Hall including Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, Billy Eckstine, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Keith Jarrett, Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte, Charles Aznavour, Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Robeson, Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, James Taylor, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, all of whom made celebrated live recordings of their concerts there.
Sissieretta Jones became the first African-American to sing at the Music Hall (renamed Carnegie Hall the following year), June 15, 1892. The Benny Goodman Orchestra gave a sold-out swing and jazz concert January 16, 1938. The bill also featured, among other guest performers, Count Basie and members of Duke Ellington's orchestra.
Rock and roll music first came to Carnegie Hall when Bill Haley & His Comets appeared in a variety benefit concert on May 6, 1955. Rock acts were not regularly booked at the Hall however, until February 12, 1964, when The Beatles performed two shows during their historic first trip to the United States. Promoter Sid Bernstein convinced Carnegie officials that allowing a Beatles concert at the venue "would further international understanding" between the United States and Great Britain. "Led Zeppelin became the first hard rock act to play Carnegie Hall since the Rolling Stones tore the place up some five years ago." Two concerts were performed October 17, 1969. Since then numerous rock, blues, jazz and country performers have appeared at the hall every season. Jethro Tull released the tapes recorded on its presentation in a 1970 Benefit concert, in the 2010 re-release of the Stand Up album. Ike & Tina Turner performed a concert April 1, 1971, which resulted in their album What You Hear is What You Get. The Beach Boys played concerts in 1971 and 1972, and two songs from the show appeared on their Endless Harmony Soundtrack. Chicago recorded its 4-LP box set Chicago at Carnegie Hall in 1971. European folk dance music first came to Carnegie Hall when concert of Yugoslav National Folk Ballet Tanec was performed on January 27, 1956. Ensemble Tanec was the first dance company from Yugoslavia to perform in America. The company performed folk dances from Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Albania.
The 2015–2016 season celebrated the hall's 125th anniversary and the launch of an unprecedented commissioning project of at least 125 new works with 'Fifty for the Future" coming from Kronos (25 by female composers and 25 by male composers).
Management and operations
Since July 2005, the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall is Sir Clive Gillinson, formerly managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra.
The hall's operating budget for the 2008–2009 season was $84 million. For 2007–2008, operating costs exceeded revenues from operations by $40.2 million. With funding from donors, investment income and government grants, the hall ended that season with $1.9 million more in total revenues than total costs.
Carnegie Hall Archives
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 in 1991, the management established the Carnegie Hall Archives that year.
This joke has become part of the folklore of the hall, but its origins remain a mystery. Although described in 1961 as an "ancient wheeze", its earliest known appearances in print date from 1955. Attributions to Jack Benny are mistaken; it is uncertain if he ever used the joke. Alternatives to violinist Jascha Heifetz as the second party include an unnamed beatnik, bopper, or "absent-minded maestro", as well as pianist Arthur Rubinstein and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Gino Francesconi, Carnegie Hall archivist, favours a version told by the wife of violinist Mischa Elman, in which her husband makes the quip when approached by tourists while leaving the hall's backstage entrance after an unsatisfactory rehearsal. The joke is so well known it is often reduced to a riddle with no framing story.
Other buildings named Carnegie Hall
Several other concert halls also bear the Carnegie name.
- Carnegie Hall, a 540-seat venue in Andrew Carnegie's native Dunfermline, Scotland, opened in 1937.
- 1928-seat Carnegie Music Hall on the main site of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the main branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
- Carnegie Hall on the North Side of Pittsburgh, formerly known as Allegheny, Pennsylvania, attached to the Carnegie Library. The first Carnegie Music Hall to open in the United States
- Carnegie Music Hall attached to the Carnegie library in the suburb of Braddock, Pennsylvania. This was built as part of an 1893 addition to the Braddock Carnegie Library.ation.
- 1,022-seat Carnegie Music Hall attached to the Carnegie library in the suburb of Homestead, Pennsylvania.
- Carnegie Music Hall attached to the Carnegie library in the suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
- 420-seat Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, West Virginia.
- Carnegie also built a Library and Music Hall in the Pittsburgh suburb of Duquesne, Pennsylvania, which was demolished in 1968.
- Alliance for the Arts, advocacy organization for Carnegie Hall
- Carnegie Hall – a 1947 film featuring the venue as the setting for the plot and numerous performances
- List of museums and cultural institutions in New York City
- List of National Historic Landmarks in New York City
- List of New York City Designated Landmarks in Manhattan from 14th to 59th Streets
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Manhattan from 14th to 59th Streets
- Although founder Andrew Carnegie pronounced his surname // kar-NAY-gie, with the stress on the second syllable, the building is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable of Carnegie.
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