A Dream Team of Sopranos: Carnegie Hall Treasures
Shortly before it was published, Carnegie Hall Treasures author Tim Page spoke with us about the process of choosing a fraction of the thousands of available images and artifacts for inclusion in the book.
You had thousands of things all around you on the floor of the Carnegie Hall Archives. How did you make decisions about what to include in the book?
I made decisions—first off—based on things that really interested me, things that I thought were remarkable and unusual.
I found stuff like a poster for the Berlin Philharmonic's first appearance in New York with Wilhelm Furtwängler. Unfortunately, Furtwängler died before it happened, and it ended up being the first performance in New York with Herbert von Karajan, who would go on to have quite a history with the Hall, but it was interesting to put the posters side by side.
And other pairings, for instance a wonderful picture of Rudolf Serkin onstage, deeply involved with the music he's playing, right next to a picture of Peter Serkin onstage at about the same age. They're very different pianists in some ways, but in other ways, when you add up the musical rigor and the intellectualism and the sheer commitment to great music, they're very similar. I liked that very much.
I guess what I would say is that, to a large extent, the book was made as sheer pleasure for me—stuff that I thought was funny, interesting, lively, crazy, unusual, unexpected. But I also had the sense that's it is also a history, to some extent—an unconventional history, but a history—so I got in all the key figures. I chose the pieces that should be there, and then our wonderful designer at Harper-Collins laid it out magnificently.
There's also a packet of facsimiles of memorabilia from the Carnegie Hall Archives.
Yes, you've got some wonderful things in here. There is a ticket to the opening night—a reproduction, I hasten to add, although it's hard to tell! Here's a program for John Philip Sousa and a duplication of a letter from Joan Sutherland about her many times at Carnegie Hall. One of my favorites is a complete reprinting of the book that was issued when The Beatles came here; kind of exciting. There's a souvenir program from when Johnny Cash came to the Hall. Pretty much all kinds of music have found representation at Carnegie Hall.
And, imagine having this set of six tickets in your wallet and going to these concerts in 1972—Anna Moffo, Leontyne Price, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Monserrat Caballé, Marilyn Horne, and Birgit Nilsson. That's quite a selection of stars to present all within about three and a half months!