On September 27, the New York Philharmonic opens its 79th season with a gala concert celebrating the newly rescued Carnegie Hall.

The freshly redecorated auditorium hummed with a tangible sense of excitement as conductor Leonard Bernstein led the orchestra in his own Candide Overture, Roy Harris’s Symphony No. 3, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chlöe Suite No. 2. When soloist Isaac Stern finally appeared to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, the audience greeted him with a standing ovation, in recognition of his efforts to save the Hall from destruction. A moment of drama ensued when Stern’s E-string snapped during the first movement of the concerto. Barely missing a beat, he swapped instruments with concertmaster John Corigliano, who restrung Stern’s violin and returned it to him during an orchestral passage.

“Work still remains to be done in the outer lobby,” noted The New York Times the next day, “but inside the house the red, white and gold made the hall look twice as large. And it gleamed.”

Photo courtesy of New York Philharmonic Archives

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