The old joke says that the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice. The truth is that it is a lot simpler than that. You only need to buy a ticket to enjoy one of the hundreds of concerts performed here every year.
Since it opened in the spring of 1891, Carnegie Hall has attracted the world’s best musicians of all kinds to this stretch of Seventh Avenue just south of Central Park. The building gets its name from its benefactor, the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and it has become one of the most famous concert venues in the world.
Inside Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall holds three auditoriums. The main hall is the Isaac Stern Auditorium; home to the Perelman Stage and nearly three thousand seats. The hall is named for gifted violinist Isaac Stern, and it is one of the most honored stages in the United States. It is famous for its perfect acoustics and the stage has been graced by some of the world’s biggest talents, from Vladimir Horowitz to Groucho Marx.
Zankel Hall is the newest venue at Carnegie Hall, and it features a much smaller venue, with just 600 seats. Concerts here showcase contemporary classical, pop and jazz musicians, as well as chamber music.
The Weill Recital Hall is even more intimate, holding under 300 seats. It hosts master classes, panel discussions and often plays host to the debut of a young and upcoming artist.
The Design of Carnegie Hall
Aside from the music, the architecture of Carnegie Hall also stands as tribute to the arts. It was one of the last large masonry buildings constructed in New York. Its white and gold interior is restrained. Architect William Burnett Tuthill drew inspiration from all of Europe’s best concert halls.
Tuthill did away with the heavy curtains and chandeliers that were considered so fashionable at the time, as his research told him they interfered with the sound. Instead, the unadorned design, the domed ceiling and the elliptical shape of the halls have all helped establish Carnegie Hall’s reputation as having perfect acoustics. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
The History of Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall opened with the music of Russian composer Tchaikovsky, since then it has seen more than 45,000 of the best concerts in the world. Over the next century of music, the world’s greatest symphonies, singers and musicians have graced these stages, including the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Duke Ellington’s Orchestra, Harry Belafonte, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, the Beach Boys and the Beatles. The New York Philharmonic has played at Carnegie Hall more than 5,000 times.
The hall has seen the world premieres of several of the world’s best orchestras and works of music, including works from Dvořák, Strauss, Gershwin, Ellington and Glass.
Seeing a Concert at Carnegie Hall
With hundreds of performances every season, there are plenty of chances to take in the history and legend of Carnegie Hall. You can buy tickets directly from Carnegie Hall’s website. If there is a specific show you have in mind, plan ahead and buy your tickets early. Demand is high. There are discounts for group purchases and seats with obstructed sight lines or limited leg room are sold at a 50 per cent discount.
There are also a limited number of public rush tickets available on a first come, first serve basis on the day of the performance. These tickets are sold only at the Carnegie Hall box office and go for as little as ten dollars. Line up early.