Carnegie Hall – Scottish – German – Italian – American Venue


Carnegie Hall, one of the world’s pre-eminent concert venues, was the chance result of an unexpected meeting in 1887 of Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and the German composer Walter Damrosch. Damrosch, as director of the Ontorio Socitey of New York and the New York Symphony, was desperate for a music venue to continue the work of his societies. The young conductor managed to convince the older millionaire, who had made his fortune as a steel magnate in America, to fund the music hall in an as yet undeveloped part of Manhattan.

In 1891 the Music Hall, as it was then known, opened to the public. The Scot and the German built an Italian Renaissance-style venue, more subtle and elegant than extravagant Baroque-style halls. The mix of European influences was typical of 19th century America, a nation of immigrants and dreamers. In construction the emphasis was clearly on the music rather than the building and the acoustics remain world-class.

Nowadays the Carnegie Hall consists of three separate concert spaces. The original Isaac Stern Auditorium is also known as the Ronald O. Perelman Stage. This cavernous five-tiered venue can seat 2,804 people. Historically it has been used mainly for classical orchestras and recitals, however, ever since The Beatles played there in 1964 it has also hosted the most prestigious of popular music groups.

The Zankel Hall is the newest of the three spaces having been converted from a cinema back to a concert hall and reopened in 2003. The Zankel Hall is a modern masterpiece of warm wood panels and seating for 599 people. This space is popular for jazz and world music.

Last is the Weill Recital Hall, is home to debates, master classes and recitals from emerging musicians. It is an intimate space characterised by its lush blue drapes.