Carnegie Hall has been one of New York’s premier concert halls since its completion in 1891. Named after its main benefactor Andrew Carnegie, this hall has come to symbolize the heart and soul of New York’s cultural make up and diversity. As a small child being raised in New York City, Carnegie Hall has always been a place thought of as one of those grand establishments where opera was performed and many musical instruments filled the air. It wasn’t until later in my life would I come to find out Carnegie Hall was so much more.
Located on the blocks of Seventh Avenue and Fifty Seventh Street in the heart of Manhattan, Carnegie Hall has captured the imaginations of people all over the world with its grand concert halls and majestic décor. As one of the most well known tourist attractions in New York City, music lovers from many different cultures and from different parts of the globe have traversed its halls and filled its seats. These patricians, all entering into a world marked with tradition and encompassed with a history enriched by its unique assortment of performers and concerts, are entering into a legacy of musical diversity. Carnegie Hall has endured the test of time and has proved to be resilient in the face of the ever changing cultural landscape and identity that is New York City.
Just as Carnegie Hall was an instant success since its opening, the word success would become synonymous with Andrew Carnegie and many of his endeavors throughout his life time. He would become one of America’s most well known rags to riches success stories. A Scottish immigrant coming to America in 1848, Andrew Carnegie worked his way up from a variety of different jobs. Starting as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory for $1.20 a week, to later working as a messenger boy in the city’s telegraph office, Carnegie eventually became owner of a company which was the leading producer of steel by the 1900’s in the United States and later the world. After the sale of Carnegie steel to J.P. Morgan and after becoming the richest man in America at the age of 65, Carnegie would use most of his wealth in the establishment of institutions for the benefit of humanity.
These institutions ranging from public libraries, universities, and other buildings that would promote higher learning and education, to cultural phenomenon like Carnegie Hall, were all Andrew Carnegie’s way of giving back to the society in which he lived. He was a man who believed since he was fortunate enough to become rich and successful, he felt he had a responsibility to give back to America and to the people less fortunate than himself. Andrew Carnegie was the embodiment of the ever sought after American dream and has left his mark on a much grateful society.
Carnegie Hall since its creation has set the standard when it comes to classical music and has touched millions throughout its rich and awe inspiring legacy in the music world. The hall has seen many talented and even famous artists light up its stages and who have brought with them an excellence and passion that would define the atmosphere of a place that has resided in the hearts of all who experience its magic. From Gustav Mahler to Liza Minnelli, from John Philip Sousa to Leopold Stokowski, from Fats Waller to Woodrow Wilson, and from Ignace Jan Paderewski to Luciano Pavarotti, Carnegie Hall has been stage to them all.
Ranging in artists from classical to jazz, from harmonic instruments to opera, Carnegie Hall has shifted in its diversity to keep up with the changing times and has shown that it is an important part of a culture that has continued to grow and evolve. Carnegie Hall is much a part of the history of New York City as any of the souls that have left their mark in a city considered one of the centers of the world.
The story of Carnegie Hall has been one intertwined with the people who have been fortunate enough to be a part of its artistic and influential background. Carnegie hall will always live in the hearts and souls of artists and patrons alike that have come alive and given a piece of themselves during each performance that has resonated within its walls. A place where the full spectrum of human emotion is only a few of the ingredients that one can witness while traversing its halls and absorbing its musical energies. A place that in my opinion once experienced becomes a vivid and distinct part of the observer’s imagination and creates a memory that will live with them for the rest of their lives.