#dailydocument from the Archives

posts from June 2020

June 30, 2020

Christoph von Dohnányi in his debut with the New York Philharmonic, 1981.

Check out the latest radio broadcast available at NY Phil Plays On: Maestro Dohnányi and pianist Paul Lewis in Lewis's Philharmonic debut performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1.

The Philharmonic's first complete performance of this concerto by Brahms was done in 1875 under conductor Carl Bergmann. The soloist was Nannetta Falk-Auerbach, who was a student of Clara Schumann! See that program in the Digital Archives.

Autographed black-and-white heashot of Christoph von Dohnányi.
View in the Digital Archives

June 29, 2020

A break in rehearsal during "Tuning Week" for Philharmonic Hall.

In June, 1962, the Philharmonic played to pieces of foam simulating audience members. No, the orchestra was not performing a socially-distanced concert — they were allowing acousticians to adjust the sound for a "full house" before the hall opened in September of that year.

Now known as David Geffen Hall, this was the first venue to open at Lincoln Center.

Black-and-white photo of the orchestra playing to a concert hall with large pieces of foam in the seats.
View in the Digital Archives

June 26, 2020

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. The New York Philharmonic and the United Nations, both denizens of the City of New York, have had a friendship for decades. To commemorate this day, the Philharmonic will join members of the San Francisco Symphony for a virtual performance of Make Our Garden Grow from Bernstein’s Candide. The performance will be at the conclusion of the UN’s commemoration celebration at around 11:45, and you can watch it on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or the UN's website.

The Philharmonic has performed many times at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, including concerts commemorating the 10th and 20th anniversaries. However, the first UN concert was an unofficial celebration in May of 1946 that included had some unusual features not normally seen in Carnegie Hall! This was the first Carnegie “Pops” concert; guests could order food and smoke while enjoying the music and air conditioning. UN Security Council members from England, Russia, China, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt were in attendance — and perhaps indulged in a beer or a hotdog during the William Tell Overture!

Press clippings
Read more in the Digital Archives

June 24, 2020

Join us on Facebook for Concerts in the Parks @ Home, tomorrow night at 7:30pm EDT! We will be broadcasting highlights from past concerts in Central Park and newly recorded performances by Philharmonic musicians from their homes.

The Philharmonic has been producing t-shirts celebrating the Parks Concerts since 1982, and &emdash; you guessed it! &emdash; they are all in the Archives! Which one is your favorite?

Different t-shirt designs for the New York Philharmonic's Concerts in the Parks
Explore all our programs from Concerts in the Parks, going back to 1965

June 23, 2020

We’re going to try something new with today’s #dailydocument!

Fans of the New York Philharmonic may know that we were founded in 1842. You may even know the date of our first concert (December 7, 1842) but — do you know how much a subscription cost for the first season?

Here's a hint: there’s a few places where you can find this information in the Digital Archives...

Read the answer here

June 22, 2020

In 1906 violinist Maud Powell appeared with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Wassily Safonoff in the US Premiere of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. Safonoff sent her this letter after the concert, complimenting her on her artistry.

I wish to express to you my warmest admiration for your superb playing of the Sibelius concerto with the Philharmonic orchestra yesterday. To conquer these almost unsurmountable difficulties of technique and interpretation requires really an unusually artistic force.

You can see more letters like this one in our Special Collections.

A letter signed by Wassily Safonoff to Maud Powell
Read it in the Digital Archives

June 18, 2020

The New York Philharmonic will pause tomorrow in observance of Juneteenth. Instead of highlighting a document from our collection, the Archives would like to invite you to explore a collection from the American Folklife Center of the US Library of Congress. Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories is a series of interviews with 23 former slaves, recorded between 1932 and 1975 across nine states, telling their life stories, both during enslavement and after gaining their freedom.

You can read the full statement of the Philharmonic’s commitment to change here.

There is also a new virtual performance of We Shall Overcome arranged by Very Young Composer Jordan Millar. The Orchestra is joined by the Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir, Dessoff Choirs, Brooklyn College-Conservatory Symphonic Choir, and viBe Theater Experience.

June 17, 2020

#OTD in 1971 the New York Philharmonic, with Aaron Copland as conductor, bass-baritone William Warfield, and violinist Michael Rabin traveled to Co-op City in the Bronx to perform the first “Experience in Music” program, in a collaboration with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Other venues in the concert series included the Electric Industries Center in Queens, the National Maritime Union on Seventh Avenue, and Lincoln Center. Tickets were offered at a reduced rate to union members and their families, as well as to the general public, and included a guided tour of Lincoln Center.

A newspaper advertising the Experience in Music Series. The headline reads Unionists to Hear the Sound of Great Music and below that are pictures of composer/conductor Aaron Copland, the New York Philharmonic, violinist Michael Rabin, and bass-baritone William Warfield.
View more press clippings in the Digital Archives

June 16, 2020

As we gratefully acknowledge our Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s lead gift of $500,000 to the NY Phil Plays On Emergency Fund, the largest single gift to date, we remember a similar gift by Arturo Toscanini. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, then Music Director Toscanini contributed $10,000 of his salary to the Orchestra.

Thank you, Maestros van Zweden and Toscanini!

A letter signed by Arturo Toscanini
Read Toscanini's letter in the Digital Archives

June 15, 2020

Here is a #dailydocument you don’t normally see on social media: a bank check! In 1871, the New York Philharmonic’s treasurer John G. Beisheim wrote this rent check out to one Mr. Kingsland, the treasurer of the Academy of Music in Manhattan, where the Philharmonic held their concerts from 1856 through 1886. The annual report for this season we paid a total of $3,465 to rent out the Academy of Music for seven concerts, plus proper rehearsal time.

A 19th century bank check
See this check and our contracts with the Academy of Music in the Digital Archives

June 12, 2020

#OTD in 1973, then Music Director Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic presented the first “Rug Concert." Boulez originated this casual summer music series which continued through 1977. Orchestra-level seats were removed from the hall and the floor was covered with carpets and cushions for the audience to sit on. The musicians performed on the floor directly in front of the stage, allowing some audience members to sit on the stage for a unique vantage point.

A bright red and white graphic on the left advertising the Rug Concerts. On the left is picture of a crowded audience in Philharmonic Hall. The first section of people are seated on the floor.
View the first "Rug Concert" program in the Digital Archives

June 11, 2020

In response to visiting a machine gun factory during World War II, 9-year-old Philippa Schuyler — child prodigy pianist, composer, and later journalist — wrote music. The beginnings of her remarkable career can be seen in her submissions to the New York Philharmonic's annual notebook contest. Students who attended Young People's Concerts were given a few music questions to answer and submitted their completed "journals" to be judged. Schuyler won several awards for her extremely thorough notebook entries, which were embellished with drawings and her own compositions.

Beside her photo, clipped beneath her piano piece Song of the Machine, she wrote: “I want to compose music that reflects the world today. I do not want to imitate the past.” Schuyler would go on to perform with the New York Philharmonic in 1946 and 1955 before pivoting to journalism in the 1960s. She was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 1967 while covering the war in Vietnam.

A short piano piece pasted onto brown paper. Below it is a portrait of a young girl, Philippa Schuyler, who composed it.
See more in the Digital Archives

June 10, 2020

Another new radio broadcast has been added this week at NY Phil Plays On. Hear two works that were first introduced to American audiences by Philharmonic musicians!

Dvořák’s Cello Concerto was given its US Premiere by cellist Franz Listemann in 1896, performing with the New York Symphony and conductor Walter Damrosch. (The New York Symphony later merged with the New York Philharmonic) Unfortunately we do not have a copy of this program in our collection, but we can confirm the program from reviews and advertisements such as this one.

An old newspaper advertising an orchestral concert
View the Philharmonic's performance history of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in the Digital Archives

June 9, 2020

When Albert Einstein asks, you listen. . . even if it takes a few years.

The New York Philharmonic received this note from the famed scientist and citizen of the world in 1935, two years after he immigrated to the US to avoid Nazism in Germany. He requested the Philharmonic perform an arrangement of J.S. Bach's The Art of the Fugue by German conductor Georg Darmstadt. (Einstein was a music lover and known to attend Philharmonic concerts on occasion.)

The Philharmonic was able to program this piece for its New York Premiere in 1940, coincidentally the same year Einstein gained American citizenship.

A letter in German signed by Albert Einstein. On the right is a translation.
Read more in the Digital Archives

June 8, 2020

Congrats to all students graduating this year! We hope you enjoyed Dear Class of 2020, Youtube’s virtual commencement celebration, which aired yesterday afternoon. The New York Philharmonic was honored to perform Pomp and Circumstance with Lizzo to start the show.

The Trio from Edward Elgar’s March No. 1 in D major, from Military Marches, Pomp and Circumstance, has become unmistakable as the usual processional at many high school and college graduation ceremonies. The Philharmonic has programmed this work more than 20 times, but — from the video choreography to the drum track — we've never performed it like this before!

A score for Edward Elgar's Trio in March No. 1 in D major, from Military Marches, Pomp and Circumstance, featuring the openinig melody line in the violins
Explore the Philharmonic's history with this work in the Digital Archives

June 4, 2020

#OTD in 2009, the New York Philharmonic named Stanley Drucker as an Honorary Member of the Society. When he joined the Philharmonic in 1948, he was the youngest member of the Orchestra and described by The Brooklyn Eagle as “a dimple-faced lad from Brooklyn with a nice smile.” In 1960 he earned the position of Principal Clarinet, a post he held until his retirement in 2009. He was also awarded a Guinness World Record for longest career as a clarinetist (62 years, 7 months, and 1 day, as of June 4, 2009).

You can find more articles about Stanley’s career in the Digital Archives, in addition to the seemingly endless clarinet parts he used throughout his career!

Press clipping from the Brooklyn Eagle, dated July 14, 1948. Headline: Boro Clarinetist, 19, Becomes Philharmonic's Youngest Member. A young Stanley Drucker is pictured.
Read the full article in the Digital Archives

June 3, 2020

“Life without music is unthinkable: Music without life is academic. That is why my contact with music is a total embrace.” — Leonard Bernstein

This quote was written during the New York Philharmonic’s 1967 Midwestern US and Canada Tour, at the request of Kenneth Haas. The quote was to accompany a photograph of Bernstein taken by a Canadian photographer to go into the photographer’s book about important people.

Handwritten quote by Leonard Bernstein on New York Philharmonic stationary
View more from this folder, including planning materials for the 1967 tour, in the Digital Archives

June 2, 2020

The New York Philharmonic stands in solidarity with those fighting racism and injustice. Today, we join others in the music industry observing Blackout Tuesday.

We are outraged by the inequity that has been part of this nation's history. America can and should be better than this.

We cannot remain silent. #TheShowMustBePaused #BlackLivesMatter

Trivia Answers

How much was a subscription to the New York Philharmonic in 1842?

A subscription for the 1842-43 season cost $10, as was noted in the 1843 Annual Report, along with the Philharmonic’s income and expenses for the first season. We generally don’t use currency converters because they don’t give you the whole picture, but here are some other statistics for comparison. In 1842, a loaf of bread cost 6 cents. At the end of the season, each member of the Orchestra received $25 for their services – unless they were late for rehearsals (50-cent fine) or missed a concert ($5 fine).