If you are a classical musician, opera singer, jazz performer, or pop group, you may have grown up dreaming of one day performing at the world famous Carnegie Hall. For over a hundred years, Carnegie Hall has been a status symbol of the highest echelons of musical taste and appreciation.
Carnegie Hall bears the name of Andrew Carnegie, who originally had it built to house the Oratorio Society of New York and the New York Symphony Society. Carnegie, who was famous for his philanthropy, served on the boards of both organizations. The great hall opened its doors on May 5, 1891 and featured the famous composer Peter Tchaikovsky conducting his musical works.
Quite a prestigious beginning for a music hall. Over the years, many famous performers have appeared at Carnegie Hall, such as Duke Ellington, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Yo-Yo Ma and yes, even the Beatles!
Carnegie Hall houses three concert halls and a museum. The Main Hall seats 2,804 people and is five levels. If you don’t want to walk up 100+ stairs, you can always take the elevator. This is where all the big concerts are held. The acoustics are marvelous. The late classical violinist, Isaac Stern, once said about the acoustics “It takes what you do and makes it larger than life.”
The love that Isaac Stern had for Carnegie Hall is evident as you’ll see that the Main Hall is now called the Isaac Stern Auditorium. Believe it or not, Carnegie Hall was slated for demolition in 1960, but due to the efforts of Stern, it was saved and eventually purchased by the City of New York for $5 million.
The other two halls are much smaller and suitable for more intimate performances. Zankel Hall seats 599 and the newer Weil Hall seats 268. You can also visit the Rose Museum, which houses the Carnegie Archives, artifacts and memorabilia of the buildings history and performances.
When you reach the great hall, located at Seventh Avenue and West 57th Street, you’ll immediately admire its Italian Renaissance style architecture. The hall was even designed by a musician, an amateur cellist named William Tuthill.
Just a short walk around the corner is the Steinway Building, which displays some beautifully crafted Steinway pianos, the same type of pianos that are often used by Carnegie Hall performers.
There are over 100 performances a season held at Carnegie Hall. If you have your heart set on attending a concert there, be aware that you’ll need to buy your tickets way in advance, because they tend to sell out quickly. If you are lucky enough to attend an event at Carnegie, you’ll enjoy some of the world’s finest musical performances while admiring its splendor.