For over a century, Carnegie Hall has been the place where distinctive artists of all stripes have come to make their names in New York City. This tradition of excellence has made Carnegie Hall an essential part of the city’s cultural fabric and the world’s most famous concert hall.
The story of Carnegie Hall begins in the middle of the Atlantic. In the spring of 1887, on board a ship traveling from New York to London, newlyweds Andrew Carnegie (the rich industrialist) and Louise Whitfield (daughter of a well-to-do New York merchant) were on their way to the groom’s native Scotland for their honeymoon. Also on board was the 25-year-old Walter Damrosch, who had just finished his second season as conductor and musical director of the Symphony Society of New York and the Oratorio Society of New York, and was traveling to Europe for a summer of study with Hans von Bülow. Over the course of the voyage, the couple developed a friendship with Damrosch, inviting him to visit them in Scotland. It was there, at an estate called Kilgraston, that Damrosch discussed his vision for a new concert hall in New York City. Carnegie expressed interest in committing a portion of his enormous wealth to the project, and the idea of Carnegie Hall was born.