First Impressions

Classic Arts Features   First Impressions
From the Carnegie Hall Archives

One hundred years ago this month, on March 21, 1904, Richard Strauss conducted the world premiere of his Symphonia Domestica at Carnegie Hall for a sold-out house. The review in the New York Times the next day was favorable: "The Symphonia Domestica, like all his music, is deeply interesting … it is full of new effects, and many of his old ones are repeated with supreme mastery of technical manipulation that seems raised to a higher power than ever."

Another March premiere of note happened one year earlier, on March 26, 1903, with the presentation of Sir Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius. The New York Times wrote: "A profound impression was made upon the audience for it was the first real disclosure that we have had of the true stature and power of a man who has suddenly risen by virtue of this very work to a commanding position as one of the foremost composers of the day."

Not all premieres at Carnegie Hall have received such a positive critical response. Case in point: the New York premiere of Gustav Mahler's Seventh Symphony on March 8, 1923, 20 years later, received the following review from the New York Times: "We believe it was the last remaining symphony of the composer that had not been played here and it is at the same time the final reduction ad absurdum of Mahler's pretensions to be a composer."

How times have changed! Today, Mahler is universally recognized as a master, and his music is regularly performed here. For instance, this month in Stern Auditorium, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs the Seventh Symphony under the direction of Mariss Jansons (March 17), and Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony continue their exploration of Mahler with a performance of the Fifth Symphony (March 25). And on March 9, The Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach performs the Adagio from his Tenth Symphony.

‹Gino Francesconi
Archivist and Museum Director, Carnegie Hall

Visit the Rose Museum to find out more about Carnegie Hall's rich and diverse history.

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