Boston Symphony Orchestra celebrates 75 years at Tanglewood
For 75 seasons, hundreds of thousands of music lovers have picnicked along a grassy stretch better known as Tanglewood. What started as a summer performance space for the Boston Symphony Orchestra now features the music of James Taylor and Wynton Marsalis, among others. Our Brandon Walker takes a trip down memory lane.
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LENOX, Mass. -- For 75 years, four distinctive notes, the introduction to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, have echoed from within this outdoor shed.
"We're trying to create an environment that's all about great music," said Ben Schwartz, Assistant Artistic Administrator of the Boston Symphony.
The anchor of that great music, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, practices for night one of its diamond season in Berkshire County, wowing hundreds of thousands outdoors at its summer home, Tanglewood.
"If you think back at that time, 75 years ago, you didn't just get in your car on the Mass Pike and drive out," Schwartz said.
So, from time to time, the symphony would come here. They began visiting as early as the nineteenth century, eventually organizing the Tanglewood Festival.
It was on that day, August 5, 1937, a chance encounter with Mother Nature, left symphony members and festival go-ers dripping wet. That was an unfortunate circumstance which led to a flood of support.
"This was an opportunity for the trustees of the orchestra and supporters of the orchestra to make a speech about the necessity to raise money to construct this shed," explained Schwartz.
Named after then-symphony director Dr. Serge Koussevitzky, the shed has been the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer fort at Tanglewood ever since.
Over time, Tanglewood has become a teaching mecca for musicians past and present. Symphony member Lawrence Wolfe has been practicing Beethoven's Fifth here at Tanglewood since 1966. He joined the orchestra in 1970.
"There's a tree over there under which I practiced the very stuff that I would be playing at an audition to get the job which helps me play there," Wolfe said.
"This gives us a chance to look back on the great history of our residence here in the Berkshires and also to look forward," said Schwartz.
Looking forward, though honoring a past steep in melody, as it plays through the next 75 years.