Sunday, September 11, 2011

Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY

Built as "Philharmonic Hall" by Max Abramovitz.
Opened  September 23, 1962.
Renamed "Avery Fisher Hall" on September 18, 1973.
Home to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Located at the northern end of the Lincoln Center Plaza, at the corner of Columbus Avenue and 65th Street.

Avery Robert Fisher (March 4, 1906 – February 26, 1994) was an audio specialist who made numerous contributions to the field of sound reproduction.
In the 1950s, Fisher invented the transistorized amplifier and the first stereo radio-phonograph. These breakthroughs brought Fisher both fame and fortune. From 1959 to 1961, his company also made important improvements in AM-FM stereo tuner design. In 1969, Fisher sold his company to the Emerson Electric Company for US $31 million, which in turn sold the company to Sanyo of Japan. Fisher was a consultant for both Emerson and Sanyo.
Avery Fisher
Fisher was a noted philanthropist during his life, sitting on the boards of the New York Philharmonic and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
He died at age 87 in New York City on February 26, 1994 from complications of a stroke.

The acoustical consulting firm of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) was hired to design the interior acoustics for the hall. Based on their experience designing and analyzing existing concert halls, BBN acousticians recommended that the hall be designed as a "shoebox" with narrowly-spaced parallel sides (similar in shape to the acoustically-acclaimed Symphony Hall, Boston), with seating for no more than 2,400 patrons. Lincoln Center initially agreed with the recommendation, and BBN provided a series of design specifications and recommendations. However, the New York Herald Tribune began a campaign to increase the seating capacity of the new hall. Late in the design stage, the hall was redesigned to accommodate the critics' desires, but these changes invalidated much of BBN's acoustical design.[1] BBN engineers told Lincoln Center that the hall would sound different from how they had intended it to, but they could not predict what the changes would do.
Philharmonic Hall opened on September 23, 1962, to mixed reviews. The concert, featuring Leonard Bernstein, the New York Philharmonic, and a host of operatic stars such as Eileen Farrell and Robert Merrill, was televised live on CBS. The opening week of concerts included performances by a specially-invited list of guest orchestras (Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland), who were regularly appearing at Carnegie Hall each season, as well as the new hall's home ensemble. Several reporters panned the hall, while at least two conductors praised the acoustics. (While the initial intention had been that Philharmonic Hall would replace Carnegie Hall, which could then be torn down, that scenario of events did not take place.)
Several attempts were made to remedy the acoustical problems of the new Philharmonic Hall, with little success, leading to plans in the 1970s for a substantial renovation project designed by noted acoustician Cyril Harris with project architect Philip Johnson. These renovations included demolishing the inside of the hall and rebuilding a new hall within the outer framework and facade. While initial reaction to the improvements was favorable, overall feelings about the new hall's sound soured, and the acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall continued to be problematic. One assessment of the acoustics of the hall from R.C. Ehle stated:
"The seating capacity is large (around 2,600 seats) and the sidewalls are too far apart to provide early reflections to the center seats. The ceiling is high to increase reverberation time but the clouds are too high to reinforce early reflections adequately. The bass is weak because the very large stage does not adequately reinforce the low string instruments."[2]

During the tenure of Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic, several …
… solid maple concave surfaces were installed on the side walls (upper and lower tiers) and suspended from the ceiling of the stage to help focus sound from different parts of the stage evenly towards both the audience and towards the performers themselves. This acoustical stage upgrade was completed by the architectural firm of John Burgee Architects, formerly known as Philip Johnson John Burgee Architects. The maple was specially selected to minimize its grain pattern. The interiors of all new components are filled with up to 3 inches of fiber-glass to deaden vibrations. The side components are known as 'pillows' they are shaped to evenly reflect sound to varying parts of both the stage and audience and consist of some 30,000 small dowels individually 'diced', glued and mechanically fastened. The stepped quality of these pillows was to provide the maximum number of refracting surfaces possible. Above these 'pillows' are retractable frosted glass shelves providing additional acoustical control and adjustment. There are two suspended acoustical platforms above the stage itself, the main component is stepped and features an oval shaped frosted glass reflector panes to evenly distribute sound towards the audience while the smaller platform at the rear of the stage provides additional adjustable reflected sound for the performers.[3]
The ongoing problems with the hall's acoustics eventually led the New York Philharmonic to consider a merger with Carnegie Hall in 2003,[4][5] which would have moved the Philharmonic back to Carnegie for most of its concerts each season. However, this planned merger did not occur.[6]
Beginning in 2005 (and continuing in 2006), the Mostly Mozart Festival has experimented with extending the stage for the Mostly Mozart orchestra farther out into the seats from the main stage for the Festival's summer season.[7][8] According to a June 2006 report in the New York Times, Avery Fisher Hall is scheduled to begin undergoing renovations in the summer of 2010,[9] delayed from previous announcements of renovations in 2009.[10]

Avery Fisher is best known for the auditorium in the Lincoln Center cultural complex in upper Manhattan that bears his name. Avery Fisher Hall houses the New York Philharmonic, among various other cultural performances and musical ensembles. The hall was named for Fisher in 1973 after he made a US $10.5 million donation to the Philharmonic.
"In 2014, as the orchestra prepares for a major renovation expected to cost more than $500 million, the Fisher family has agreed to relinquish the name so the Philharmonic and Lincoln Center can lure a large donor with the promise of rechristening the building.
The unusual agreement, announced on Thursday, is a significant turnaround from 12 years ago, when the family of Avery Fisher, the music philanthropist who gave $10 million in 1973 to support the building, threatened legal action if the concert hall was rebuilt or renovated under a new name. Lincoln Center is essentially paying the family $15 million for permission to drop the name and has included several other inducements, like a promise to feature prominent tributes to Mr. Fisher in the new lobby of the concert hall."[12]

Jerry performed here on
John Kahn
Robert Hunter opened.
Jerry plays a Takamine acoustic guitar.
"My brother met Garcia and Hunter back stage at the Avery Fisher Musical Hall in NYC fall 84'. Jer signed his ticket stub and gave my brother a pick."[1]

"Jerry was looking pretty rough this night. ‪Robert Hunter‬ played the opening set and finished by singing "Boys in the Barroom" a cappella without a mic. That he filled up the opera house with his bare voice was a stark contrast to Jerry, who at times we could barely hear, even WITH a mic. No encore because those in the front row rushed the stage after the last song and ripped the strings off of John Kahn's bass. Not cool!"[11]

Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY
1.)^mazzy213, comments, 2013-03-21, So who met Jerry?,
2) ^ Ehle, Robert C.,  "What Does It Take to Make a Good Hall for Music?" Music Teacher International Magazine article.
3) ^ Buccalo, Nicholas Joel , Project Architect and Designer for Avery Fisher Hall Stage Project, John Burgee Architects, 1989-92.~~~~
4) ^Wise,  Brian , "New York Philharmonic to Carnegie Hall" on WNYC (radio station), 2 June 2003.
5) ^Blumenthal, Ralph and Robin Pogrebin (2003-06-02). "New York Philharmonic Agrees to Move to Carnegie Hall". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
6) ^Jepson, Barbara, "No Maestros" from Wall Street Journal, 22 June 2004.
7) ^Oestreich,  James R.  (2005-05-03). "An Intimate Stage Plan for the Mostly Mozart Festival". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
8) ^ Tommasini, Anthony  (2005-08-31). "New Vigor, New Program, New Stage: The Rejuvenation of Mostly Mozart". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-09-19.
9) ^ Tommasini, Anthony  (2006-06-11). "The Philharmonic's Double Challenge". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-09-17.
10) ^Pogrebin, Robin,  (2004-05-20). "New York Philharmonic to Redesign Hall". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-09-19.[dead link]
11.)^Knapp, Paul Snappyhead, comments, 2014-11-18, Grateful Dead Tour Veterans 1980s,
12.)^Pogrebin, Robin, Lincoln Center To Rename Avery Fisher Hall, 2014-11-13,  The New York Times,


  1. Very nicely written, and thank you for the footnote (3).

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