The NY Phil Story: Made in New York (Podcast)
Posted April 17, 2023
WQXR and the New York Philharmonic Present
The NY Phil Story: Made in New York
The story of a city, its people, and their orchestra
WQXR and the New York Philharmonic present The NY Phil Story: Made in New York, a five-part podcast series tracing the history of the New York Philharmonic and the city it calls home.
Host Jamie Bernstein – author, filmmaker, and daughter of iconic NY Phil music director Leonard Bernstein – takes listeners behind the scenes into some of the orchestra’s most pivotal moments, from the strains of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony during its inaugural concert in 1842, to the emotional 1865 performance that helped the city mourn the loss of Abraham Lincoln, and finally, to its present day reckoning with the displacement of the San Juan Hill neighborhood, where Lincoln Center opened in the 1960s and the NY Phil now resides.
In each episode, Jamie Bernstein examines notable works while sharing the stories of current players, titanic historical figures, and musicians whose names have since been lost to all but a few. Listeners will hear recordings from the NY Phil’s rich audio archives, including their broadcast in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, recordings of urban planner and city official Robert Moses discussing San Juan Hill’s destruction, Leonard Bernstein’s live radio debut, and other treasures from the archives. The series features interviews with historians, scholars, and New York Philharmonic musicians.
On December 7, 1842, a group of musicians gathered in the Apollo Rooms in Lower Manhattan and performed – for the first time – as the Philharmonic Society of New York. The first piece they played was Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Jamie Bernstein explores the journeys those early musicians took to get to that stage – several of whom had just immigrated to the US – and the path that current-day NY Phil concertmaster Frank Huang traveled to get from Beijing to Lincoln Center.
A Time to Mourn
Fifteen days after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Philharmonic paid tribute to him with the Funeral March from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. This moving work helped a city mourn the loss of a national leader. Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill and former band director of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Alex Kaminsky discuss how music continues to console in the face of violence and loss.
From the New World
In 1893, New Yorkers gathered outside Carnegie Hall to hear the ground-breaking premiere of composer Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, better known as the New World Symphony. One of the most hotly anticipated premieres in musical history, it was delivered in the midst of a national debate over what a distinctly “American” classical music should sound like. Over a century later, the NY Phil performed the same work a world away in Pyongyang, North Korea, revisiting those same questions of what it means to perform American music — and how music, regardless of its origin, can serve as a bridge between peoples.
To the People of New York
This episode explores Leonard Bernstein’s early career as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, where he advanced the orchestra’s legacy of providing first-rate music to New Yorkers, and eventually to the nation through the televised broadcasts of his Young People’s Concerts. We’ll land in the present day, when Bernstein’s radical democratizing of classical music continues with summer concerts in parks around the city.
After almost three years of pop-up outdoor performances and playing in venues around the city, in October of 2022 the NY Phil came home to a newly renovated David Geffen Hall. Part of Lincoln Center, it originally opened in 1962 to acclaim and controversy on the former site of the San Juan Hill Neighborhood. In this first season back, the NY Phil and Lincoln Center paid tribute to a lost community with a new commission by Etienne Charles.
More information on The NY Phil Story: Made in New York is available at nyphilstory.com