Tanglewood trivia tidbits

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♦One of state Sen. Benjamin Downing's first jobs after graduating from college was mowing the lawns at Tanglewood.

♦In 1959, Eero Saarinen, whose father, Eliell, helped design the Shed, worked with the acoustical engineering firm of Bolt, Beranek and Newman and added an internal canopy of suspended triangular panels to the Shed. Eero also is known for designing the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

♦For more than 30 years, Tanglewood's official photography has been hallmarked by a Scott: first by Walter, then by his son Hilary, then by Hilary's teenage son Gabriel.

♦The 75th-anniversary year coincides with composer John Williams' 80th birthday year.

♦Acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma first played at Tanglewood on July 31, 1983, and has appeared at the festival nearly every season since, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra more than 30 times.

♦Tanglewood has become a traditional broadcast venue for American Public Media's "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor. The radio show's first Tanglewood broadcast was in 1998.

♦Singer/songwriter James Taylor has performed in concert and made guest appearances at Tanglewood more than 30 times since his first appearance in 1974.

♦The first opening-night program (1937) included Beethoven's "Leonore Overture No. 3" and "Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6."

♦Author Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in the "Little Red House" on the Tappan family estate, near the Stockbridge Bowl, from the early summer of 1850 until December 1851. In it, he wrote "The House of the Seven Gables," "A Wonder Book," and "Tanglewood Tales," which the music concert venue later was named after. The house was destroyed by a fire on June 22, 1890. A replica of the cottage later was built.

♦Mark Volpe, managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which operates Tanglewood, obtained his juris doctorate, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983.

♦Japanese-born Seiji Ozawa might have the longest history of any Tanglewood conductor. He first went to study at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood during the summer of 1960, was named the BSO's music adviser in 1972, and became its music director in 1973. He served until 2002, when he left to become director of Vienna State Opera. His 29-year tenure as music director rivaled the 25-year reign of Russian-born conductor Serge Koussevitzky.

♦Koussevitzky led the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a quarter-century. Born in Russia in 1874, he reportedly ran away from home to study music at the School of the Moscow Philharmonic.

♦Koussevitzky celebrated his 73rd birthday during Tanglewood's 10th season.

♦Shops manager Paul Ginocchio said approximately 80 percent of sales are due to apparel bearing the Tanglewood name.

♦If someone asks about "Bernie," they aren't looking for a person. It's the nickname for the Bernstein Concession Stand, located at the Bernstein Gate entrance near Ozawa Hall.

♦Legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein befriended his teacher Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood in 1940 and later said that "Kouss," as he called him, remained one of the strongest influences in his life.

♦The main house on the estate was built by the Tappan family in 1849.

♦In 1936, the Berkshire Symphonic concerts were moved from Hanna Farm to Holmwood (later known as the Foxhollow School for Girls).

♦Reporter and editor John G. W. Mahanna covered some of the first Tanglewood news for The Berkshire Evening Eagle and wrote a four-part series in 1954 on "the two decades of development that have made the Berkshires into a world capital for summer music." He wrote a book about Tanglewood's formative years in 1955, "Music Under the Moon."

♦Seven thousand people turned out for the 10th-anniversary opening gala and program.

♦Robert L. Shaw was only 31 when he guest conducted the BSO and a 200-member Berkshire Festival chorus during the finale of the 10th season.

♦Girls were used as ushers for the first time in 1944. Tanglewood hosted a "Russian War Relief Benefit" event on Aug. 14, 1942, under the auspices of Russian War Relief Inc., and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation.

♦During the 1940s, Anne Macomber Gannett, also known as Mrs. Guy Patterson Gannett, led a project with the help of architect Andrew Hepburn to create a replica of the "Little Red House," once occupied by author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

♦Dorothy Maynor, a noted black American soprano, was said to be "discovered" by BSO conductor Serge Koussevitzky when she performed at Tanglewood in 1939. After a praised singing career in the 1940s and ‘50s, she established The Harlem School of the Arts.

♦In 1909, Serge Koussevitzky and his wife, Natalie, founded a non-profit publishing house in Russia to aid promising composers. Works were printed in the Editions Russe de Musique. Their charitable work evolved into the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, which took on the operation of the Berkshire Music Center for students at Tanglewood in 1942.

♦The estimated price for the cheapest single ticket was ".8313," according to a 1937 document regarding the planning of the Shed.

♦The cost for a three-concert series subscription to Tanglewood's August 1937 program ranged from $3 to $7.50, depending on seat location.

♦Before the Shed was built, outdoor concerts at Tanglewood were held under a tent in a field.

♦Modern Tanglewood concert seasons include dozens of performances, but in the early years, the seasons were abbreviated. In 1937, only six concerts were produced there.

♦The campus has more than 80 buildings on approximately 500 acres.

♦Several trees on the grounds are believed to be more than 150 years old. Hemlocks were a favorote tree to be planted there.

♦More than 9,000 plants are propagated in three greenhouses on campus. These plants are transplanted and deployed in flower boxes, baskets and gardens throughout the property during the season and also are sent to Boston to decorate Symphony Hall during the Spring Pops season.

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♦There are nine full-time members of the facilities team, with 14 to 16 seasonal staff members added for maintenance support to help keep the campus green and pristine. Most of the crew arrives by 7 a.m. each day.

♦Groundskeepers collect nearly 20,000 cubic yards of leaves, pine cones, needles and other materials during fall clean-up activities.

♦The staff maintains approximately 112 miles of hedgerow and 512 miles of interior roadways on the property.

♦The Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) offers instruction and performance opportunities for students ages 14 to 18.

♦The Berkshire Symphonic Festival Board of Trustees sought the construction of a double roof over the Shed "to guarantee against the noise of the rain and the heat of the sun."

♦In addition to concerts being held at Tanglewood before the Shed was built, many musicians were housed in tents.

♦The shell of the Shed is modeled after Symphony Hall in Boston.

♦When a sudden downpour temporarily stopped Serge Kousse vitzky from conducting an Aug. 12, 1937, concert, the symphony had just begun playing Wagner's overture to "Rienzi." It was the last concert of the season, and it took the conductor three tries to re-start the performance. According to Eagle files, Koussevitzky told concert officials that if the audience would remain, he would battle the storm until 4 a.m. if he had to.

♦Also in 1937, Koussevitzky and the performers broke another precedent by playing in shirt sleeves instead of full suits, due to the oppressive heat.

♦The Lenox Library Association keeps several volumes containing the meeting minutes, correspondence and other original materials archived from the Berkshire Symphonic Festival.

♦The Westbury Hotel, once known for its deluxe accommodations in New York City, was one of many prominent advertisers in the 1938 season brochure. Single rooms at the hotel, located on Madison Avenue at 69th Street, were $5 a night, while suites started at $10. Today, the hotel is an apartment building.

♦When it opened in 1938, the Shed had 5,700 seats. It currently has 5,121.

♦More than 300 tons of steel went into the construction of the Shed.

♦The main girder of the Shed was 96 feet long and weighed 16 tons. It was said to be the largest ever carried by the N.Y., N.H. & H Railroad at that time. Three flat cars were used to transport it.

♦The 150,000 feet of lumber used for the roof of the Shed came from the West Coast and was brought by boat through the Panama Canal to Albany, N.Y. The cost for the freight alone was $6,000.

♦The 66,000 square feet of the Shed roof was covered by three layers of felt and asphalt. If laid in a path three feet wide, the felt would extend from Stockbridge to Pittsfield.

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♦The acoustics at the Shed were initially tested by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Richard F. Fay.

♦Today, Andrew Pincus is a well-known writer of Tanglewood concerts and commentaries. In the early years, it was Jay Rosenfeld of The Berkshire Evening Eagle.

♦Pincus began covering Tanglewood for The Eagle in 1975. He's written two books about Tanglewood -- "Scenes From Tanglewood," published in 1989 by Northeastern University Press, and "Tanglewood: The Clash Between Tradition and Change," published 1998, also by Northeastern University Press.

♦In August of 1941, Tanglewood held a benefit concert for British war relief and the United Service Organizations (USO).

♦A fleet of 50 trucks was required to transport the massed bands of the 26th Division from Camp Edwards to Tanglewood for that concert. A total of 250 men were in the bands. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt, was in attendance to greet musicians and guests.

♦John N. Burk served as "program annotator" for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, includin♦g programs at Tanglewood, for more than 25 years. In addition to providing notes, he designed the pages.

♦In the early years, there was only one entrance to the grounds. Now, there are four.

♦When the Berkshire Symphonic Festival Board of Trustees formed Tanglewood, the venue was marketed as "a great musical shrine in America."

♦The heavy timbers used to construct the ceiling of Ozawa Hall were salvaged from old piers and train trestles. The hall was designed by William Rawn Architects Inc.

♦The formal gardens were planned by Mr. and Mrs. Richard C. Dixey of Boston. With the help of their gardener, Alexander McConnachie, the gardens were planted around 1900.

♦In 1937, zoologists from Harvard University conducted a study in which it was estimated that nearly 10,000 bats inhabited the main house and other structures on campus, helping to create a low mosquito population.

♦An electronic organ was first used in a Tanglewood symphonic performance in 1939.

♦A bronze bust of American composer Aaron Copland was erected on the grounds in June 2011. The sculpture is in the same area where Copland's ashes were scattered, behind the Tappan house, after he died in 1990.

♦A small doggie headstone sits near the parking lot by the maintenance offices. It was relocated there from a pet cemetery from the Highwood Manor estate, when the estates of the campus were combined.

♦Gertrude Robinson Smith, a New Yorker and part-time Berkshirite, drew up a letter dated June 18, 1934, inviting 150 people within a 40-mile radius of Stockbridge to her residence to hear Dr. Henry Hadley's proposal to give symphony concerts in the Berkshires "under the stars." Hadley was a noted conductor/composer; 64 men and women turned out for that first meeting.

♦Tanglewood's founders were mostly women, and Gertrude Robinson Smith was president and an advocate for the Berkshire Symphonic Festival from 1934 until 1955, when the BSF dissolved and the Boston Symphony Orchestra took over the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

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♦Opera singer Phyllis Curtin first went to Tanglewood in 1946 as a student of Boris Goldovsky. This season, at age 90, Curtin will join Mark Morris in narrating scenes set to Walton's "Façade, An Entertainment."

♦East German conductor Klaus Tennstedt's BSO debut in 1974 marked his first appearance in the United States.

♦Seranak is the name of Serge Koussevitzky's estate at Tanglewood, which he purchased in 1939. It is one of three manor homes on the grounds. Today, the historic home serves as housing for guest musicians and associates and caters to an evening supper club on Fridays and Saturdays.

♦Conductor Thomas D. Perry Jr. had a long history at Tanglewood. He arrived in 1940 as a student, then took on various managerial duties, and in the late 1940s he tried to make women wearing shorts to the campus cover up with wraparound skirts handed out at the gates. Perry served as manager of the BSO from 1954 to 1973, then became executive director until his retirement in 1978.

♦Because of a heated artistic debate with the BSO, conductor Leonard Bernstein canceled all of his performances with the orchestra during its 1981-82 season in Boston and Lenox.

♦Randall Thompson's famous "Alleluia" for unaccompanied chorus was written and first performed for the opening ceremony of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood on July 8, 1940. The piece arrived less than an hour before the event was to begin, but it made such an impression that it now is tradition to sing the piece every summer at the center's opening exercises.

♦Berkshire Symphonic Festival's first season, before the establishment of Tanglewood, was held in a horse show ring at Hanna Farm. In that first season, a near-crisis developed one day when the paint on the benches at the farm failed to dry by concert time. The day was saved when the seats were covered with heavy-duty paper to protect patrons.

♦The original estimate for building the Shed in 1937 was $100,000. The final cost was $90,000.

♦Nestled in the formal gardens of the northeastern grounds are two wooden benches that were installed in August 1994 in memory of David Blake, who tended the venue's gates for 26 years. An inscription reads: "He loved this place and those who visited here."

♦It is said that in 1936, during the BSO's first performance in the Berkshires, a lone cricket chirped along as Serge Koussevitzky was leading the orchestra in the Second Symphony of Sibelius.

Sources: Eagle archives and research, Tanglewood staff, Berkshire Symphonic Festival meeting archives at Lenox Public Library.


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