Completed in 1891, Andrew Carnegie’s Music Hall was opened as the new home for the Oratorio Society of New York, with a five-day musical festival during which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of the world’s foremost composers of the day, conducted several of his own works.
Often considered one of the premiere centers of American musical life and history, Carnegie Hall has continually featured the work and performances of countless LGBT artists. Few had as close an association with the Hall as Leonard Bernstein, who appeared more than 430 times between 1943 and 1990, as conductor, pianist, composer, and educator. Dimitri Mitropoulos was the conductor of the New York Philharmonic between 1950 and 1957, until he became the victim of McCarthy-era homophobia. Other conductors here included Jeffrey Tate and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Premieres of classical works by LGBT composers Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, David Diamond, Marc Blitzstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Ned Rorem, and John Corigliano were conducted here. African-American composer and pianist, Don Shirley, also performed here. Innumerable LGBT performers have ranged from pianists Vladimir Horowitz and Van Cliburn, to dancer Isadora Duncan, leading Wagnerian heldentenor Lauritz Melchior, popular singers Chris Williamson, Meg Christian, and Rufus Wainwright, and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.
See Studio Towers for the LGBT history of the former apartments above the Hall, which have since been converted to rehearsal and classroom space after the last tenants were evicted in 2010.