Music with Michael Lankester AM

On the evening of April 22nd 1887, Andrew Carnegie and his new bride, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, stepped onto the steamship Fulda to begin their honeymoon. On that same evening, a twenty-five-year-old musician and conductor boarded that same ship – it was Walter Damrosch who was on his way to begin intensive studies with the world-renowned Hans von Bulow. During the voyage, the Carnegies and Damrosch formed a close and lasting friendship and the result was the building of a concert hall in New York that would rival Boston’s Symphony Hall. Carnegie Hall opened its doors to the public on May 5th, 1891 with a five-day festival culminating in a performance of Tchaikowsky’s First Piano Concerto conducted by the composer.

Michael Lankester traces the history of Carnegie Hall from that first memorable night to the present day, focusing on the extraordinary array of composers and performers who have stepped onto that stage, from Paderewski and Rachmaninov to Rubinstein and Horowitz, from Van Cliburn to Pollini, Mitsuko Uchida and Martha Argerich. Amongst violinists, from Kreisler and Ysaye, to Heifetz and Menuhin, Perlman, Zuckerman, Gil Shaham and, of course, Isaac Stern whose heroic efforts saved the hall from the wrecking ball. Caruso, Callas, Tebaldi, Pavarotti, Beverly Sills ….. the list of singers is endless. Visiting orchestras from across the world, jazz greats, comedians – there is no limit to the variety that has graced the boards of Carnegie Hall. When Andrew Carnegie laid the corner stone in 1890 he proclaimed, ‘All causes may here find a place.’ Emmeline Pankhurst, Winston Churchill, Clarence Darrow, Groucho Marx, The Beatles, J K Rowling’s Harry Potter… He was right!

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