Avery Fisher Hall

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Avery Fisher Hall
Former names Philharmonic Hall
Address 10 Lincoln Center Plaza
Location New York City
Coordinates 40°46′22″N 73°58′59″W / 40.77278°N 73.98306°W / 40.77278; -73.98306Coordinates: 40°46′22″N 73°58′59″W / 40.77278°N 73.98306°W / 40.77278; -73.98306
Public transit



Owner Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Type concert hall
Capacity 2,738
Opened  1962 (1962-MM)

Avery Fisher Hall, a concert hall in New York City, New York, is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex. It is the home of the New York Philharmonic, with a capacity of 2,738 seats.


Designed by Max Abramovitz, the hall opened in 1962 as Philharmonic Hall, as the new home concert venue of the New York Philharmonic, after the orchestra moved from Carnegie Hall. The hall was renamed for Avery Fisher, a member of the Philharmonic board of directors, following his $10.5 million donation to the orchestra in 1973.

The hall underwent renovations in 1976 to address acoustical problems that existed since it opened. Another smaller renovation attempted to address unresolved problems in 1992, both projects achieved limited success.[1]

In May 2004, the orchestra announced that the building would undergo renovations in 2009,[2] but in June 2006, The New York Times reported that the construction had been delayed until the summer of 2010.[3] By 2012, it became clear that construction would not start before 2017. The shell of the building will be left intact and work will focus on improving the hall’s poor acoustics, modernizing patron amenities and reconfiguring the auditorium. The name of the structure will not change, in part because of a threat of legal action by Avery Fisher's family protesting any change. The auditorium, however, is expected to be a major naming opportunity for a donor.[4]


The interior of Avery Fisher Hall

Architects hired the acoustical consulting division of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) 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 and late in the design stage, the hall was expanded to accommodate the critics' desires, invalidating much of BBN's acoustical work.[5] BBN engineers told Lincoln Center management that the hall would sound different from their initial intent, but they could not predict what the changes would do.

Philharmonic Hall opened 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 resident 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 demolished, that scenario of events did not take place.)

Management made several attempts 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 Robert 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."[6]

In 1992, under the tenure of Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic, several solid maple wood concave surfaces were installed on the side walls and suspended from the ceiling of the stage to improve acoustics. The maple was specially selected to minimize its grain pattern. The new components are filled with fiberglass to deaden vibrations.[7]

The ongoing problems with the hall's acoustics eventually led the New York Philharmonic to consider a merger with Carnegie Hall in 2003, which would have returned the Philharmonic to Carnegie Hall for most of its concerts each season. However, both sides abandoned talks after only four months.[8][9][10]

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.[11][12]

Notable events[edit]

Avery Fisher Hall is used today for many events, both musical and non-musical.

It is a frequent location for graduation ceremonies for high schools and universities, such as Columbia University Law School, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, the Macaulay Honors College, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Stuyvesant High School, Edward R. Murrow High School, Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, Polytechnic University of New York, Bronx High School of Science, Marymount Manhattan College, Juilliard School, St. George's University School of Medicine,DeVry College of New York/Keller Graduate School of Management, and The High School for Environmental Studies. It is also available for weddings.

Another early television concert from Avery Fisher Hall again featured Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in one of their Young People's Concerts. It was the first of the many such concerts televised from that venue, still known as Philharmonic Hall, which had been previously televised from Carnegie Hall. The program concentrated on concert hall acoustics, and, like the opening night concert, was shown over the CBS television network. It was entitled "The Sound of a Hall". The PBS series Live from Lincoln Center continues to feature performances from Avery Fisher Hall.

In addition, Lincoln Center presents visiting orchestras in Avery Fisher Hall, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, as part of its Great Performers series.

A 1964-performance by Miles Davis at Philharmonic Hall was released on two albums, My Funny Valentine and Four & More.[13]

Simon & Garfunkel recorded their live album, titled Live from New York City, 1967, here on January 22, 1967.

Queen performed two shows during its Sheer Heart Attack Tour on February 16, 1975, at 8:00pm and 11:30pm.[14]

The hall hosted the world premiere of Steven Spielberg's film War Horse Sunday, December 4, 2011.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kozinn, Allan (11 June 1992). "Fiddling With the Sound at Avery Fisher Hall". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  2. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (20 May 2004). "New York Philharmonic to Redesign Hall". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  3. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (11 June 2006). "The Philharmonic's Double Challenge". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  4. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (28 November 2012). "Avery Fisher Hall to Be Renovated". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  5. ^ Rothstein, Edward (22 May 2004). "If Music Is the Architect, the Results May Be Less Than Melodious". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  6. ^ Ehle, Robert C. "What Does It Take to Make a Good Hall for Music?". Music Teacher International Magazine. 
  7. ^ Kozinn, Allan (5 August 1992). "Details Set for Avery Fisher Renovation". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  8. ^ Wise, Brian (2 June 2003). "New York Philharmonic to Carnegie Hall". WNYC. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  9. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph; Pogrebin, Robin (2 June 2003). "The Philharmonic Agrees to Move to Carnegie Hall". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  10. ^ "N.Y. Philharmonic, Carnegie Merger Off". Billboard. Associated Press. 8 October 2003. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  11. ^ Oestreich, James R. (3 May 2005). "An Intimate Stage Plan for the Mostly Mozart Festival". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  12. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (31 Auguse 2005). "New Vigor, New Program, New Stage: The Rejuvenation of Mostly Mozart". The New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved 2014-02-21.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ "How A Stressful Night For Miles Davis Spawned Two Classic Albums". NPR. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  14. ^ "Queen live on tour: Sheer Heart Attack". QueenConcerts.com. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  15. ^ "Walk the Red Carpet and Attend the World Premiere of War Horse". Delta Air Lines. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 


  • Melone, Deborah; Eric W. Wood (2005). Sound Ideas: Acoustical Consulting at BBN and Acentech. Cambridge, MA: Acentech Incorporated. LCCN 2006920681. 
  • "Annals of Architecture: A Better Sound" by Bruce Bliven. New Yorker magazine, November 8, 1976.

External links[edit]