The Arts

Carnegie Hall: New York’s Temple of Music

November 18, 2016
Carnegie Hall, New York

A stellar evening inside Carnegie Hall. Photo: Carnegie Hall, Facebook

Carnegie Hall; New York’s renowned concert hall that is synonymous with magnificent music. Throughout its history the hall has presented music superstars including Tchaikovsky, Caruso, Toscanini, Mahler, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Judy Garland, and the Beatles to name a few. With its elegant design, near-perfect acoustics, and performances by the world’s greatest musical artists, Carnegie Hall is a place of pilgrimage for lovers of music.

Carnegie Hall, New York

Carnegie Hall’s famous golden brick exterior. Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Carnegie Hall History

Wealthy steel magnate Andrew Carnegie built Carnegie Hall as a labor of love – his love of music and his new bride, Louise. (She was a member of the Oratorio Society of New York, for which the hall was built). When the cornerstone was laid in 1890 (at what was an undeveloped intersection far north of the city’s cultural venues), Carnegie proclaimed, “It is probable that this Hall will intertwine itself with the history of our country.” Prophetic words, indeed – since its 1891 opening night (lead by Tchaikovsky, no less), the venue has presented the most renowned music ensembles, conductors and soloists of their time. It has also hosted greats of Jazz, Pop and World Music, as well as comedians and famed orators like Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, and Booker T. Washington.

In addition to great performers, the hall has presented world premiere performances of works by Dvorak, Richard Strauss, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, Duke Ellington, Benjamin Britten, Stravinsky, and Bernstein.

But Carnegie Hall’s history hasn’t been entirely harmonious. When the New York Philharmonic (once the hall’s primary tenant) relocated to Lincoln Center, the venue was sold to a developer with plans to demolish the building and erect a bland office tower. But public outcry saved Carnegie Hall. It was designated a National Historic Landmark and then sold to New York City for $5,000,000. The Carnegie Hall Corporation was formed to run the hall and today they oversee operations, maintenance (the hall was substantially renovated in 1983-86), programming and the organization’s education initiatives.

Carnegie Hall, New York

The legendary stage and hall, where legendary performances happen. Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto, Carnegie Hall, Facebook

Visit Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is located at West 57th Street & 7th Avenue.

Subway: A, C, B, D, or 1 to 59th Street / Columbus Circle, N, Q, R to 57th Street / Seventh Avenue, B, D, E to Seventh Avenue, or F to 57th Street / Sixth Avenue.

Bus: M5, M7, M20, M31 and M104 stop nearby.

Carnegie Hall is open to the public for performances and guided tours (see below).

Carnegie Hall presents approximately 250 performances during its season – generally October through June. There are few performances during the summer months and, except for special events, the building is closed to the public. See the hall’s calendar for a complete schedule and roster of performances.

Carnegie Hall, New York

Vintage poster from one of Carnegie Hall’s famed concerts. Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Carnegie Hall is comprised of three concert halls:

  • Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage – the famed hall where so many historic performances and world premieres have taken place. The auditorium features five levels, 2,804 seats, an elegant design and ideal acoustics.
  • Zankel Hall – a 599-seat hall that presents chamber music, recitals, and contemporary music from classical, pop, jazz, and world music artists.
  • Weill Recital Hall – an intimate 268-seat hall that offers recitals, chamber music concerts, panel discussions, and master classes.

The Box Office is open Monday–Saturday, 11 AM–6 PM, Sunday, 12 PM–6 PM. On performance days, the box office remains open until 30 minutes after “curtain.”

Tickets can also be purchased online, or via phone: 212-247-7800, Daily 8 AM–8 PM

Ticket prices vary depending on performance and seating location. In general, prices can range from approximately $135 for the lower levels to $22 in the balcony.

In an effort to keep great music accessible to everyone, Carnegie Hall offers discount tickets to most performances. The discounts include 50% off the full price for seats with obstructed views and big discounts for students, members of the military, NYPD and young music lovers. They even offer a limited number of same-day “rush” tickets for only $10! Check here for complete details on discount tickets.

There is no dress code at Carnegie Hall. However, conservative “business-casual” attire is most appropriate.

Photography or recording of any kind is prohibited during performances. Use of cell phones or electronic devices is not allowed inside the auditoriums.

Coat check is available. However, they are unable to accept large items or luggage.

Carnegie Hall, New York

The hallways are lined with autographed photos of musical legends. Photo: Jeff Dobbins

When attending a performance in the main auditorium, check the hallways. They are lined with autographed photos of the luminaries who have performed at Carnegie Hall.

Also accessible to audiences in the main hall is the Rose Museum, which exhibits concert programs, photographs, autographed posters, musical manuscripts and video from Carnegie Hall’s illustrious history. The museum is also open to the public daily 11am – 4:30pm (entrance: 154 West 57th Street, 2nd floor). Closed July 1 – October 1.

The hall’s Café, located on the ground level, is available for a pre-concert drink or bite to eat. There are also bars outside Weill Recital Hall and Zankel Hall where one can enjoy a drink and snacks.

For dining before or after a performance, Carnegie Hall has put together a helpful Neighborhood Guide listing restaurants and parking facilities close to the venue.

Carnegie Hall, New York

Artifacts in the Rose Museum include Benny Goodman’s clarinet and Leonard Bernstein’s baton. Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Carnegie Hall Tours

The hall offers tours from October through late June. The tour schedule is based on activity in the venue and quite changeable, so definitely check the website before making plans.

Tour tickets are available at the Box Office or via CarnegieCharge: 212.247-7800 (with a $6.50 convenience charge per ticket). Tickets cost $17 per person, $12 for students, seniors, and children. It’s advisable to arrive early to purchase tickets as availability is limited. Tours depart from the main lobby.

To keep up with events and happenings at Carnegie Hall, check their informative Blog and their YouTube Channel. The hall’s Twitter and Facebook accounts are great places to follow the venerable venue.

Carnegie Hall, New York

Always a thrill to be in this legendary venue. Photo: Carnegie Hall, Facebook

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