Carnegie Hall Heroes: Jeff Albert
Photo by Chris Lee
I once did a private tour for a young couple from Ottawa. They were both music teachers and he had arranged it so he could propose to her at Carnegie Hall. When we got up to the Dress Circle, I said, ‘Why don’t you go down to the front row?’ They went down and he proposed. All the kids in their school know which seats they were in when that happened!”
The man telling this story is Jeffery Albert, one of the docents who give guided tours of Carnegie Hall and its many treasures. “I love giving the tours,” he says. “I love watching the people when they first see Stern Auditorium and Perelman Stage.” He’s bumped into Yo-Yo Ma in the corridor – an event that nearly made a tourist faint. He’s swapped jokes with Emanuel Ax. And he has many stories to tell.
“There’s so much history, and it’s so rich and varied. I remember hearing Charles Mingus at Carnegie Hall – it was very different to hear him here. When I saw him, he played a musical saw! I used to attend the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts in the Solti years, and their horns would make the whole house shake.”
These tours usually end with the Rose Museum. “One of my favorite things is in the museum. When Tchaikovsky was here for the opening of the Hall, he went to a dinner. And it was such a big meal, one that would have had ice cream or sherbet between courses to cleanse the palate. When the ice cream course came, there was a box with a ribbon and there was a little oval with his music on it. He autographed a lot of these and one of them is in the museum. Not too many people know about that.”
This article first appeared in Carnegie Hall: 125 Years of an Iconic Music Venue’s Most Remarkable People and Memorable Events, available at carnegiehall.org/125th_Anniversary_Magazine.