May 05: Architecture’s Longest-Running Gag

2016/05/05 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1891 the Music Hall opened in New York City.

The Hall was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill, who was a pretty big deal in his day (soon after this building he was invited by Dan Burnham to take part in a group project in a park next to Lake Michigan, which you may have heard of), but he has sort of fallen off the radar since then. Maybe it’s because this, his great work, is odd for its time.  Sure, Gilded Age New York was all about Classicism, but Tuthill chose a more sparing Florentine approach than the hefty full-on Imperial Roman stylings of McKim, Mead and White that would be more highly favored.  Also, he stayed true to the method of the Renaissance, building the Hall of masonry inside and out, even as his contemporaries were draping Classical designs over iron and steel structures.

Two years after its opening it was renamed after its benefactor, industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.  On opening night, the guest conductor for its first public performance was Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

You know how Tchaikovsky got to Carnegie Hall?

Practice.

Image: interior of the auditorium (from this source)

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