Live from Carnegie Hall: Judy Garland
On March 11, Steven Reineke conducts The New York Pops and guest artists, including her daughter, Lorna Luft, in a reenactment—using the exact same arrangements and running order—of Judy Garland's famous 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. Today's Live from Carnegie Hall turns the limelight on the most iconic Carnegie Hall live recording of all.
Artist: Judy Garland
Album: Judy at Carnegie Hall
Date Recorded: April 23, 1961
Fun Fact: Less than a month later, Judy Garland performed a second Carnegie Hall concert on May 21, 1961.
Not yet 40 when she made her Carnegie Hall debut on April 23, 1961, Judy Garland was already on her first comeback trail. She had fought her way back from hepatitis in 1959 and 1960, and was returning to the US after a triumphant tour of Europe—including a tour debut at The London Palladium.
That night at Carnegie Hall, the audience was teased by Mort Lindsey and his orchestra's performance of an overture that included some of Garland's biggest and most beloved hits—"The Trolley Song," "Over the Rainbow," and "The Man That Got Away"—before the star took the stage to perform a gruelling program of 26 songs to prove that her health was good and that her talent was undiminished.
By all accounts, the audience reaction was frenzied. In a somewhat begrudging New York Times review of the concert, the reviewer opined, "Whether or not this sort of unadulterated adulation was warranted is a matter a non-cultist had better not discuss in public."
Remarkably, the resulting album was released in July 1961, just 10 weeks after the concert. Judy at Carnegie Hall won four Grammy Awards—Album of the Year, Best Female Vocal Performance, Best Engineered Album, and Best Album Cover—becoming Judy Garland's best-selling recording.
The album cover pictured above is reproduced from an autographed copy currently on display in Carnegie Hall's recently redesigned Rose Museum.