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Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
Carnegie Hall

The Music Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie in New York City opened on May 5, 1891 with a concert conducted by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It quickly became known simply as “Carnegie Hall,” in honor of its donor.

Among musicians, appearing at Carnegie Hall is the test of greatness. Famous soloists such as Isaac Stern and Artur Rubenstein have played there and as well as famous orchestras led by famous conductors such as the Boston Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. There is a famous saying that goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!”

In 1986, Carnegie Hall was in serious need of renovation and it was feared that the building would be torn down. However, thanks to many generous donors and the leadership of Isaac Stern, it was saved and the Main Hall and Recital Hall were refurbished. In 2003, a new concert space was opened on the lower level, returning the Hall to its founder’s vision of three great halls of varying sizes under one roof.

Today, Carnegie Hall presents more than 190 concerts each year, from orchestral performances, chamber music, recitals and choral music to folk, world, musical theatre and jazz. Continually building on its tradition of excellence and innovation, Carnegie Hall remains one of the world’s premier concert venues.

Carnegie Hall

Naomi Lewin recently spoke with Gino Francesconi, Museum Director and Archivist for Carnegie Hall. Here are some exerpts from their conversation.

Lots and lots of people have performed at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall means different things to different people

Antonin Dvorak and his Symphony from the New World

Carnegie Hall is unique because of the many types of people who appeared there

An Animated History
See the history of this remarkable hall in a visit with Gino, the Carnegie Hall cat.

Music heard in this episode:
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1, third movement
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite: Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy
Gershwin: American in Paris
Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 "From the New World"
Prokofiev: Classical Symphony
Sousa: Stars and Stripes Forever
Wagner: Die Meistersinger: Overture
Benny Goodman: Sing, Sing, Sing
Cesar Espejo: Airs Tziganes

Other shows about Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker
Traditional Christmas Classical Music

Download this month's activity sheet

About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
5/7/1840 - 11/6/1893
Born in Russia

Piotr (or Peter, as we would say in English) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, a town in Russia's Ural Mountains. When he was 8 years old, his family moved to the capital city of St. Petersburg. Even though Tchaikovsky was a good musician as a kid, that wasn't considered an "acceptable" profession, so his parents made him study law instead.

But even in law school, Tchaikovsky continued to study music. Eventually, he gave up his legal job and went to the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After he graduated, he moved to Moscow to teach at the new conservatory there. It's now named for him.

For years, Tchaikovsky had a patroness named Nadezhda von Meck -- a wealthy widow who was a big fan of Tchaikovsky's music. She regularly sent him money so that he could concentrate on composing without having to worry about making a living. But Nadezhda von Meck didn't want to meet Tchaikovsky. For 14 years, they only communicated by writing letters to each other. Tchaikovsky dedicated his Fourth Symphony to his patroness.

Tchaikovsky traveled all over Europe for performances of his music. In 1891, he even came to America for the opening of Carnegie Hall, where he was invited to conduct his music.

See other composers born in Russia


This Week's Quiz:

1. Who conducted the first performance at Carnegie Hall?

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Andre Previn

Arturo Toscanini

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Leonard Bernstein

2. Folk music, jazz and pop music are performed at Carnegie Hall as well as classical pieces.



3. What famous work by Dvorak was first performed at Carnegie Hall?

Symphony No. 9

Slavonic Dances

Cello Concerto

Piano Concerto


Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker

Composed in 1891
Performed by Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
Ondrej Lenard, conductor

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