NEW YORK— May 5 marks the 125th anniversary of the legendary Carnegie Hall. A gala concert will be held this evening to celebrate the occasion, hosted by actor Richard Gere. Performers at tonight’s event include, Marilyn Horne, Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, and James Taylor.
The venerable concert hall officially opened its doors on this day in 1891. Opening night featured guest conductor Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the iconic Russian composer. Other famous composers, including Dvorak, Mahler and Gershwin all performed at Carnegie Hall. Over the years, Carnegie Hall has hosted some of the most extraordinary performers of all time. The New York Philharmonic began performing there in 1892, though its departure to Lincoln Center nearly led to Carnegie Hall’s demolition. Thankfully, resident artists led by violinist Isaac Stern saved Carnegie Hall and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962. Classical artists have made Carnegie Hall famous throughout the world and many have premiered works there, including Sergei Rachmaninoff with his Variations on a Theme by Corelli, and Leonard Bernstein with his Overture to Candide. Among the jazz and pop artists who have graced the stage at Carnegie Hall, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Ella Fitzgerald gave her last public performance there in 1991. Many Greek artists have performed at Carnegie Hall over the years, including soprano Anastasia Zannis, pop and folk singer Elefteria Arvanitaki, and Greek-American composer Dinos Constantinides.
Perhaps best known for music, Carnegie Hall is also known for the oft-repeated joke, attributed to various famous musicians, including violinist Jascha Heifetz, pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and violinist Mischa Elman, who when asked by bewildered tourists for directions “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?,” replied “Practice!”