Anonymous yet personal, this Blog chronicles
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“Deconstructing Jim” is simply here to
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Avery Fisher Hall

As you enter past the security checkpoint at Avery Fisher Hall, and travel up the escalator to the first floor, there is a modern sculpture before you (photo on right). I found it odd that the piece of art is "preempted" by a sign with information about the NY Philharmonic "Protocol and Late Seating Policy."

From my perspective, your initial entry into a building makes an important connection. I would much rather be "welcomed" into the public space than read the riot act. Do I need to ask, "Where's my lawyer?"

Also, I wouldn't want to be the artist of the sculpture (which was unmarked, but it looks like it might be by Henry Moore).

Above is a view from of the main lobby from the second floor. This place needs a renovation!

I assume this is an original. Hidden upstairs in the hallway is the bust of Gustav Mahler sculpted by Rodin. I was about to her his First Symphony in performance by the orchestra Mahler use to direct.
The NY Philharmonic made some nice displays of historical information about the orchestra. I snapped a photo of the score used by Lenny Bernstein of a Mahler symphony. You can see Bernstein's markings indicating the entrances of the instruments, but above the staff he wrote. "Have the courage to remain in 8!" He was Music Director of the NY Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969.

In 1962 the NY Philharmonic commissioned Aaron Copland to write a work to celebrate the opening of Lincoln Center. He wrote Connotations for Orchestra which is a 12-tone piece, and in a rather abstract modernist style (at least for Copland). Below is the score to his work with a dedication to Bernstein. It reads, " For Lenny, who asked for it, and created it in unforgettable fashion - this 'first copy' from a grateful composer-friend."

And then I found something of personal interest related to my own family. My cousin Louis was a long-time member of the NY Philharmonic. He performed from 1917 to 1962. Among the summer concerts he always participated in were the NY Philharmonic Stadium Concerts. Here is a poster from that series for the 1943 season....

I also found a very large panoramic photograph hanging on the wall which was taken in 1925 of the entire orchestra when they were on tour in Washington D.C. The US Capital building is in the back, and their music director at the time - Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951) - is standing with the orchestra. The Dutch conductor was friends with a former NY Philharmonic music director: Gustav Mahler. Mengelberg held lead position with the NY Philharmonic from 1922-1928, and shared the podium with Toscanni beginning in 1926. While individual members of the orchestra were not identified in the large photo, I was easily able to pick cousin Louis out of the crowd of 100-plus faces and snap a photo of him with my digital camera. He is pictured directly in the center of the photo.

I was very pleased to discover this previously unknown but historic "family" photo hanging in Avery Fisher Hall.