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Symphony Hall
Boston Symphony Hall from the south.jpg
Symphony Hall from the south.
Location 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°20′33.34″N 71°5′8.9″W / 42.3425944°N 71.085806°W / 42.3425944; -71.085806Coordinates: 42°20′33.34″N 71°5′8.9″W / 42.3425944°N 71.085806°W / 42.3425944; -71.085806
Built 1900
Architect McKim, Mead and White
Architectural style Renaissance
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 99000633[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 20, 1999
Designated NHL January 20, 1999[2]
Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall is a concert hall located at 301 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Designed by McKim, Mead and White, it was built in 1900 for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which continues to make the hall its home. The hall was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1999. It was then noted that "Symphony Hall remains, acoustically, among the top three concert halls in the world ... and is considered the finest in the United States."[2][3] Symphony Hall, located one block from Berklee College of Music to the north and one block from the New England Conservatory to the south, also serves as home to the Boston Pops Orchestra as well as the site of many concerts of the Handel and Haydn Society.

History and architecture[edit]

Symphony Hall was inaugurated on October 15, 1900, after the Orchestra's original home (the Old Boston Music Hall) was threatened by road-building and subway construction. Architects McKim, Mead and White engaged Wallace Clement Sabine, a young assistant professor of physics at Harvard University, as their acoustical consultant, and Symphony Hall became one of the first auditoria designed in accordance with scientifically derived acoustical principles. Admired for its lively acoustics from the time of its opening, the hall is often cited as one of the best sounding classical concert venues in the world.[4]

The hall is modeled on the second Gewandhaus concert hall in Leipzig, which was later destroyed in World War II. The Hall is relatively long, narrow, and high, in a rectangular "shoebox" shape like Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and Vienna's Musikverein. It is 18.6m high, 22.9m wide, and 38.1m long from the lower back wall to the front of the stage. Stage walls slope inward to help focus the sound. With the exception of its wooden floors, the Hall is built of brick, steel, and plaster, with modest decoration. Side balconies are very shallow to avoid trapping or muffling sound, and the coffered ceiling and statue-filled niches along three sides help provide excellent acoustics to essentially every seat. Conductor Herbert von Karajan, in comparing it to the Musikverein, stated that "for much music, it is even better... because of its slightly lower reverberation time."[5]

Symphony Hall interior

In 2006, due to years of wear and tear, the original concert stage floor was replaced at a cost of $250,000. In order to avoid any change to the sound of the hall, the new floor was built using same methods and materials as the original. These included tongue-in-groove, three-quarter inch, hard maple boards, a compressed wool underlayment and hardened steel cut nails, hammered in by hand. The vertical grain fir subfloor from 1899 was in excellent shape and was left in place. The nails used in the new floor were hand cut using the same size and construction as the originals[6] and the back channelling on the original maple top boards was replicated as well.[7]

Beethoven's name is inscribed over the stage, the only musician's name that appears in the hall since the original directors could agree on no other name but his. The hall's leather seats are the original ones installed in 1900. The hall seats 2,625 people during Symphony season and 2,371 during the Pops season, including 800 seats at tables on the main floor.


Sixteen replicas of Greek and Roman statues line the upper level of the hall's walls. Ten are of mythical subjects, and six of historical figures. All are of plaster cast by P. P. Caproni and Brother.

The statues, as one faces the stage are: on the right, starting near the stage: Faun with Infant Bacchus (Naples); Apollo Citharoedus (Rome); Girl of Herculaneum (Dresden); Dancing Faun (Rome); Demosthenes (Rome); Seated Anacreon (Copenhagen); Euripedes (Rome); Diana of Versailles (Paris); on the left, starting near the stage: Resting Satyr of Praxiteles (Rome); Amazon (Berlin); Hermes Logios (Paris); Lemnian Athena (Dresden, with head in Bologna); Sophocles (Rome); Standing Anacreon (Copenhagen); Aeschines (Naples); Apollo Belvedere (Rome).


The Symphony Hall organ, a 4,800-pipe Aeolian-Skinner (Opus 1134) was designed by G. Donald Harrison, installed in 1949, and autographed by Albert Schweitzer. It replaced the hall's first organ, built in 1900 by George S. Hutchings of Boston, which was electrically keyed, with 62 ranks of nearly 4,000 pipes set in a chamber 12 feet deep and 40 feet high. The Hutchings organ had fallen out of fashion by the 1940s when lighter, clearer tones became preferred. E. Power Biggs, often a featured organist for the orchestra, lobbied hard for a thinner bass sound and accentuated treble.

The 1949 Aeolian-Skinner reused and modified more than 60% of the existing Hutchings pipes and added 600 new pipes in a Positiv division. The original diapason pipes, 32 feet in length, were reportedly sawed into manageable pieces for disposal in 1948.

In 2003, the organ was thoroughly overhauled by Foley-Baker Inc., reusing its chassis and many pipes, but enclosing the Bombarde and adding to it the long-desired Principal (diapason) pipes, adding a new Solo division, and reworking its chamber for better sound projection.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Symphony Hall". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  3. ^ Gerrit Petersen, Steven Ledbetter, and Kimberly Alexander Shilland (June 26, 1998). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Symphony Hall" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-26.  and Accompanying 18 photos and other illustrations, exterior and interior, historic and modern PDF (5.38 MB)
  4. ^ R.W. Apple, Jr., Apple's America (North Point Press, 2005), ISBN 0-86547-685-3.
  5. ^ Beranek, Leo Leroy (1962). Music, acoustics & architecture. Wiley. p. 93. ISBN 0-387-95524-0. OCLC 175926. . Beranek paraphrases but does not quote von Karajan in the second edition of this work (2004).
  6. ^ Dyer, Richard (August 6, 2006). "After 105 years, BSO to enter a new stage". The Boston Globe. 
  7. ^ Symphony Hall Acoustical Renovation


  • Boston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall: The First 100 Years, January 2000. ISBN 0-9671148-2-9
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra, Program Notes, October 1, 2005, April 8, 2006
  • Leo Beranek, Concert Halls and Opera Houses: Music, Acoustics, and Architecture (2003), ISBN 978-0-387-95524-7

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_Hall,_Boston — Please support Wikipedia.
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150 news items

Wicked Local

Wicked Local
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 04:00:00 -0800

Longtime maestro Keith Lockhart wears a stocking cap, Symphony Hall is decorated, a different guest each night narrates “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and everyone joins a sing-along at the “Holiday Pops,” Boston Pops, Symphony Hall, Boston, Dec. 2-31.


Thu, 26 Nov 2015 11:07:30 -0800

Harvey has performed in major venues including Fenway Park and Symphony Hall, Boston, the Knitting Factory and the Village Gate (NYC), the National Gallery of Art (DC), the Left Bank Jazz Society (MD), the Southern California Institute of Architecture ...

Daily News Transcript

Daily News Transcript
Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:52:30 -0800

Longtime maestro Keith Lockhart wears a stocking cap, Symphony Hall is decorated, a different guest each night narrates “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and everyone joins a sing-along at the “Holiday Pops,” Boston Pops, Symphony Hall, Boston, Dec. 2-31.
Thu, 04 Jun 2015 11:56:15 -0700

Julian Edelman showed off his musical side during a special appearance at Symphony Hall on Wednesday night. The Patriots wide receiver took the stage as a guest conductor for the Boston Pops' rendition of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” at the annual ...

Boston Globe (subscription)

Boston Globe (subscription)
Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:17:23 -0700

“When the judge takes his seat, / whatever is hidden shall be made manifest, / nothing shall remain unavenged.” Those words, from the “Liber scriptus” of the Catholic Mass for the dead, might have been uppermost in the minds of the detainees at the ...

Boston Globe (subscription)

Boston Globe (subscription)
Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:08:04 -0700

Piano players rarely play together, so the saying goes. But there are exceptions. Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea took a legendary duo tour together in 1978, which then became a legendary album. The collaboration was noteworthy in part because the two ...

Boston College Chronicle

Boston College Chronicle
Mon, 26 Oct 2015 09:26:43 -0700

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (October 2015)—Accomplished violist Haesoo Yoon—a BC Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences junior who has an impressive musical performance background—will take the stage at Boston's Symphony Hall on Monday, ...


Wed, 04 Nov 2015 19:08:22 -0800

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