How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Practice, practice, practice”, says the proverbial quip. Actually, the Beaux Art concert venue is located in the heart of New York City’s midtown, just a few blocks away from Central Park. The beautiful and acoustically perfect concert hall has been the host of over 50,000 events in its long history. Today, restored and as lovely as ever, Carnegie Hall welcomes visitors to three concert stages, a museum, and fascinating archives.
A young man once asked a stranger on the streets of New York,” Sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and the man answered, “Practice, Practice, Practice”. No music hall in New York City has so much legend attached to its very existence as Carnegie Hall. It has for generations been a cultural icon and symbolized the best of the best.
The largest hall at Carnegie Hall has been the premier classical music performance space in the United States since its opening in 1891, showcasing the world’s greatest soloists, conductors, and ensembles. The hall was dedicated to the Isaac Stern Auditorium in 1996, and the stage was dedicated to the Ronald O. Perelman Stage in 2006. Throughout its century-plus history, space has been the forum for important jazz events, historic lectures, noted educational forums, and much more. Renovated in 1986, the auditorium’s striking curvilinear design allows the stage to become a focal point embraced by five levels of seating which accommodates up to 2,804 people. Some would say there is not a bad seat in the house. The auditorium’s renowned acoustics have made it a favorite of audiences and performers alike. “It has been said that the hall itself is an instrument,” said the late Isaac Stern. “It takes what you do and makes it larger than life.” Legend has it that you can hear a pin drop on the stage from the very last row of seats in the house.
Carnegie Hall is made up of three concert halls:
The Main Hall or Isaac Stern Hall / Perelman Stage – Seats 2804 persons on five levels.
Zankel Hall – Seats 599 persons. Originally a recital hall, it was also a theatrical venue and a cinema before being restored to an auditorium in 2003.
Weill Recital Hall – Seats 268 persons. This smallest of the halls was originally called the Carnegie Chamber Music Hall before being renamed the Weill Recital Hall in 1987, in honor of the Chairman of the Board of Carnegie Hall, Sanford I. Weill, and his wife, Joan.
Live at Carnegie Hall
Performing at Carnegie Hall has been, and continues to be, a highlight of any performer’s career. The prestigious concert hall has presented over 50,000 performances in its long and varied history, including such diverse artists as Maria Callas, Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, and Gustav Mahler. World premieres at Carnegie Hall have included Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (the “New World” Symphony) and George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.” The hall was also the home of the New York Philharmonic for decades until the symphony moved to Lincoln Center in 1962. Today, although it has no resident company, the annual Carnegie Hall season includes well over 100 performances, presenting some of the finest classical, jazz, world music, and popular artists in the world each season.
Designed by architect and cellist William Burnet Tuthill and built by Steel Tycoon turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most famous venues in the United States for classical and popular music, renowned for its beauty and history, but especially the acoustics. Carnegie Hall has its own artistic programming, development, and marketing departments, and presents about 250 performances each season, hosting everything from Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll to the Classics. Carnegie Hall is composed of three theaters the largest being the Isaac Stern Auditorium / Ronald O. Perelman Stage which is what most visitors know as “Carnegie Hall”. A third-floor Auditorium called the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Recital Hall and underneath the building the new Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall.
Carnegie Hall was built in 1891 by industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, for whom the hall is named. Interestingly, the stone Italianate building was designed by architect, William Burnet Tuthill, an amateur cellist. His knowledge of music undoubtedly led to the venue’s unrivaled (at the time) acoustics. The building, with its striking façade of terra cotta and iron-spotted brick, is decorated in a Florentine renaissance style. Particularly noteworthy is the foyer, with its arched openings and Corinthian pilasters. Carnegie Hall opened on May 5, 1891, with a concert by the maestro, Walter Damrosch, and composer, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Ownership of the building stayed in the Carnegie family until 1925, when Mr. Carnegie’s widow, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, sold the concert hall to real estate developer, Robert E. Simon, Sr. Carnegie Hall was threatened with demolition in the mid-1950s, when the New York Philharmonic, the hall’s primary tenant, rejected an offer to purchase the building from Robert E. Simon, Jr., and announced their intent to move to Lincoln Center, which was then in the planning stages. The building was saved when a grass-roots effort, headed by violinist Isaac Stern, led to its purchase by the city of New York in 1960.
Visiting Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is easily accessible by taxi, bus, and subway from all parts of New York City. It is also a short walk away from many of New York’s finest hotels. Tickets to performances may be purchased online from the Carnegie Hall site.
In addition to performances, visitors to Carnegie Hall may tour the facility on guided tours, which include backstage, dressing rooms, and rehearsal halls. During the season, the tours run three times per day Monday through Friday.
Address: 881 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY, 10019
Click here to visit Carnegie Hall website.