Zankel Hall, the newest of Carnegie Hall’s three auditoriums, occupies a space that had previously suffered something of an identity crisis. Underneath the main hall, architect Tuthill had designed a 1,200 seat recital hall where German pianist Franz Rummel performed on April 1, 1891—a little more than a month before the official opening night in the main hall on May 5.
In 1896, this mid-size venue was configured as the 800-seat Carnegie Lyceum; for the next six decades, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts used it for occasional musical performances, but mostly for dramatic productions that included young stars-to-be Anne Bancroft, Grace Kelly, Jason Robards, and Spencer Tracy.
Carnegie Lyceum became a movie house in 1952 and served as an off-Broadway theater until 1961, when it was converted yet again to a cinema. In 1997, the process to reclaim the space for its original purpose as a performance venue began, and two years later ground was broken on Zankel Hall, a versatile 599-seat auditorium, with alternate stage configurations of different capacities. Zankel Hall opened in 2003 and is named in honor of the generosity of the late Carnegie Hall Vice Chairman Arthur Zankel and his wife, Judy. Today, Carnegie Hall presents the finest world, jazz, and folk musicians at Zankel Hall in addition to innovative new concert music and outstanding chamber ensembles.