May 5: Carnegie Hall

Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage Beauty ShotsHow do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

Although the concert hall hosted a few events in April of 1891, Carnegie Hall’s official opening night wasn’t until May 5.

Carnegie Hall’s May 5, 1891 opening night was a New York Symphony Society concert conducted by maestro Walter Damrosch and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Interestingly, when it first opened, Carnegie Hall went by another name, simply the Music Hall. The Music Hall was originally built by Andrew Carnegie as a home for the Symphony Society and the Ontario Society of New York. It wasn’t until 1893 that the board members of the Music Hall Company of New York were able to convince Carnegie to put his name on the building.

The Carnegie family remained the owners of Carnegie Hall until 1925 when Andrew Carnegie’s widow sold it to a developer. In the 1950s, the developer tried to sell it to the New York Philharmonic, the building’s chief tenant. However, the Phil was set to move to Lincoln Center, which at the time was under construction. It was not believed that New York could have two successful large concert venues, and so the developer put the building on the market, and the worst possible scenario soon arrived: Another developer bought the land with the intention of demolishing Carnegie Hall and building another skyscraper on the site. Thankfully, New York’s artistic community, led by violinist Isaac Stern, rallied to save Carnegie Hall, and special legislation was passed allowing New York City to buy the land and hall for $5-million. Nowadays, the concert hall is run by the nonprofit Carnegie Hall Corporation, and hosts concerts of nearly every genre.

I’ve discovered a cocktail called the Carnegie Sunrise, but tragically I can’t find an explanation behind its evocative name. Regardless of its origin, this drink is a sweet cross between a Bloody Mary and a Tequila Sunrise. I don’t know how it works, but somehow this Frankencocktail is delicious.

Carnegie Sunrise

  • 1 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 1 ounce Tequila
  • 1 can frozen orange juice
  • 3 ounces tomato juice
  • 4 strawberries

Blend all ingredients and strain into a highball glass.

Tomorrow: Valentino!


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