Read an Excerpt
Carnegie Hall Treasures
By Tim Page and Carnegie Hall
HarperCollinsCopyright © 2011 Tim Page and Carnegie Hall
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCREATING THE MUSIC HALL
" HAPPY THE MAN WHO CAN USE HIS WEALTH
TO WIDEN HUMAN HAPPINESS..."
Bishop Henry Codman Potter
in his opening invocation before the first concert at Carnegie Hall, 1891
Kenneth T. Jackson's Encyclopedia of New York City divides up
its entry on classical music into three parts, with the first
entitled "Beginnings to 1890." A great deal happened in that
early periodthe presentation of the first complete Italian
opera in 1825 (Rossini's The Barber of Seville), the formation
in 1842 of the orchestra that eventually morphed into the
New York Philharmonic, the establishment of a row of
concert halls around 14th Street, and the opening of the
Metropolitan Opera on Broadway and 39th Street in 1883.
Andrew Carnegie planned the Music Hall to be by far
the largest and grandest concert space America had ever
known - a symbol of the city's continuing surge toward
preeminence. Of course, Carnegie's concert hall didn't just
happen - no endeavor of such magnitude ever does. Here
are some of the men - and one essential woman - who
brought about the creation of the Music Hall on the corner
of 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.
The Manhattan of today is almost impossible to imagine
from the illustrations that have survived. This drawing (below) of
nearby Sixth Avenue from 1868, some twenty years before Carnegie Hall
was built, shows largely undeveloped territory - shacks with clotheslines
in their yards and horse-drawn buses (although there were already some
telephone lines running above, a harbinger of the new age). The
brand-new Osborne apartment house (right) - in a photo taken in 1885
directly from the site of what soon became Carnegie Hall - towers over
everything nearby, and while the sidewalks are paved, 57th Street is not.
Andrew Carnegie (right), the industrialist turned philanthropist,
built the Music Hall that bears his name at a then astronomical
cost of $1 million. Carnegie was born in 1835 in the ancient city of
Dunfermline, Scotland, which was once the capital of the country and
still holds the tombs of several early Scottish monarchs. After emigrating
to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, with his family in 1848, Carnegie rose from a
$1.25-a-week job in a thread mill that he held as a teenager to found the
Carnegie Steel Company, which later became U.S. Steel.
A true self-made man, Carnegie never forgot the lending libraries
that helped him learn, and he would build thousands of them throughout
the world to encourage enterprise wherever it might take flight. In this
circa 1912 photograph at Skibo Castle (above, right), his home in Scotland,
Carnegie is with his wife, the former Louise Whitfield, a native New Yorker.
He courted Louise for six years, marrying her in 1887 when he was 52
and she was 30. The union lasted 32 years, until Carnegie's death in 1919.
Louise continued his charitable work until her death in 1946.
If Andrew Carnegie (with his wife's passionate encouragement)
contributed the funding for the new Music Hall, it was Walter Damrosch
who provided the initial artistic vision. In the photograph at left, Walter is
with his father, the conductor and violinist Leopold Damrosch, who
came to America from Germany in 1871 bearing a letter of recommendation
from Franz Liszt (below). Liszt had also dedicated a composition to
him. In New York, Leopold founded both the Oratorio Society of New
York and the New York Symphony Society, the two groups for whom
Carnegie Hall Damrosch duly appeared at the Carnegies' rented home in Kilgraston
a few months later. As he recalled in his autobiography, My Musical Life:
"On our long walks and fishing trips, Mr. Carnegie talked continuously
and freely about his plans to better the world through liberal benefactions
. . . The need of a hall large enough for a chorus as large as the
Oratorio Society began to take shape in Mr. Carnegie's mind."
of classical music into the lives of untold thousands of new listeners.
Excerpted from Carnegie Hall Treasures by Tim Page and Carnegie Hall Copyright © 2011 by Tim Page and Carnegie Hall. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.