The history of Andrew Carnegie's Music Hall and John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever have been intertwined almost from the start.
For fun and to celebrate Independence Day we compiled some fascinating trivia about the journey of one of the most American of musical works throughout the history of the Hall!
1. The Carnegie Hall premiere of The Stars and Stripes Forever was conducted by Frederick Brumm on January 28, 1898—the year after it was published. Proceeds from the concert went to the "Fresh-Air Department of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor."
2. Since its premiers, The Stars and Stripes Forever has been performed at Carnegie Hall just over once a year on average. This includes six graduation ceremonies, two open rehearsals, two 'meetings,' and one 1903 private event.
3. The longest spell between performances of The Stars and Stripes Forever at Carnegie Hall was nearly six years—between May 1981 and March 1987.
4. John Philip Sousa conducted The Stars and Stripes Forever three times at Carnegie Hall. The first performance in 1905 and two more on the same day—October 6, 1917.
5. Famous Bach transcriber Leopold Stokowski conducted the Symphony of the Air in a performance of The Stars and Stripes Forever on April 16, 1960. Captain Kangaroo is listed as 'Narrator' for that concert.
6. To celebrate becoming an American citizen, legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz wrote a transcription of The Stars and Stripes Forever for solo piano. He performed the New York premiere in Carnegie Hall on March 28, 1945.
7. John Morris Russell conducted The Orchestra of St. Luke's performing The Stars and Stripes Forever six times over three days at Carnegie Hall—May 27 through 29, 2008—as part of the Weill Music Institute's Link Up school program.
8. New York Pops founder Skitch Henderson holds the record for conducting The Stars and Stripes Forever in front of an audience at Carnegie Hall. Including two open rehearsals, he did so eight times between 1989 and 2005.
9. Skitch would have made it nine but he allowed a guest conductor to step in for The Stars and Stripes Forever on October 26, 2001. The guest conductor? Famed CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite.
10. Star Wars, Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, E.T., and Jurassic Park film score composer and conductor John Williams conducted the Boston Pops playing The Stars and Stripes Forever at Carnegie Hall on April 30, 1988.
10+1. The Stars and Stripes Forever has never been performed in Carnegie Hall on July 4.
Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons, enjoy a 1909 Edison Records recording of Sousa and his band performing Stars and Stripes Forever. Happy Fourth of July!
The Carnegie Hall Archives are not 100% complete, so we may be missing some bits of the life story of Sousa's magnum opus at Carnegie Hall. If you have any information about The Stars and Stripes Forever or anything else that has happened throughout Carnegie Hall's 120 years, we would love to hear from you. More information about submitting materials is available in the Archives section of our website.