I have a souvenir of your days in Minneapolis, DDR. The Minnesota
Orchestra's 75th anniversary album. First the disk has that Ormandy
Weinberger, a couple selections with Verbrugghen, two with Mitropoulos, and
evergreens with Dorati and Skrowaczewski, spanning 1925 to 1961. Fast
forward to 1977 for the second LP, where Dennis' productions of Petrouchka
and the Three Oranges Suite were recorded in the Orchestra's current (once
again and hopefully permanent) home. An enjoyable set.
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Dennis Rooney
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2014 2:42 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Old Mercury recording venue gets a rebuild
Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium anchors the north end of the UofM East
Bank campus in Minneapolis. It was originally built as a lecture hall and
its acoustics were specifically normalized to speech. Hence all those Psych
101 classes. Its use as a music performance venue was an afterthought. The
University had its own recital series, but the invitation to the Minneapolis
Symphony Orchestra brought about its "re-purposing". The UofM Music
Department wanted to enlarge and enhance their teaching faculty by using MSO
players. The sale of the Orchestra's original downtown Minneapolis home
(Orchestra Hall) made it possible for the organization to move entirely to
Northrop, where its offices were housed, and rehearsal and locker space
created. The academic lecture schedule was altered so the giant survey
lectures took place at 8:30AM so the Orchestra could use the space from
10:00-12:30. The size of the room meant that only one subscription concert
was needed to accommodate all prospective patrons, who frequently filled all
5,000+ seats. Northrop was also the venue for the Metropolitan Opera's
Spring Tour appearances. Henri Verbrugghen was the conductor of the first
MSO Northrop concerts. It was there in autumn 1931 that he suffered a stroke
while rehearsing, which resulted in the whirlwind selection of Eugene
Ormandy to succeed him. Ormandy's Victor recordings begun in 1933 gave the
MSO its international reputation. The MSO continued to play its Minneapolis
concerts in Northrop until 1974, after which they moved to a newly built
Orchestra Hall on the same site as the old. By that time, they were renamed
The Minnesota Orchestra.
I've been gone from the Twin Cities are for decades and was unaware of the
extensive re-build. Whatever the new spaces in it sound like, they probably
will be better than what they replace, which was described by many as "A
railroad station with chairs". I remember many memorable concerts there from
the fifties to the eighties. I conclude with this remembrance of Elizabeth
Schwarzkopf's appearance there in a Lieder recital sometime in the sixties.
The hall had perhaps 2500 people in the audience, which in Northrop looked
empty. The manager feared she would be annoyed by the turnout. However, when
she returned backstage from her first "set", she seemed exhilarated. She
exclaimed: "So many people to hear Lieder!"
On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 1:13 PM, Peter Hirsch <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I don't know the specifics, though I believe that there was some
> attempt to build it in such a way as to send the stage sounds upward
> rather than out to the audience. The large size of the hall has been
> mentioned in some articles, but this seems odd to me since the Met
> Opera, diagonally next door, is plenty big, too, but there is no
> problem hearing the singers anywhere in that house.
> A little searching turns up a number of articles about the problem,
> but no real details on its causes. There is an interesting looking
> study by the AES<http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1218> that
> looks like it is only open to members, but I assume that many on this
> list fit that category.
> There probably are others on this list (Dennis?) more qualified to
> comment on this, but I can personally verify that the hall was never a
> good venue for opera, though this is now mostly a moot point, I guess.
> Peter H.
> On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 12:37 PM, Malcolm Rockwell <[log in to unmask]
> > I'm curious as to how designing in that acoustically dead area was
> > accomplished.
> > Malcolm
> > *******
> > On 3/13/2014 5:57 AM, Peter Hirsch wrote:
> >> Interesting that it states that "dance was the primary program that
> >> [new Northrop] is designed around". I hope that doesn't mean that
> >> it will
> >> the acoustics of the Lincoln Center auditorium formerly known as
> >> the New York State Theater (re-christened for a pair of super-rich,
> >> politically meddlesome brothers that I'd prefer not credit by
> >> name). With the NY
> >> Ballet as its original tenant, it was created with a dead area
> >> onstage
> >> that there would be nothing audible radiating to the audience from
> >> the dancing. Of course, when the late, lamented, City Opera moved
> >> from their original home at City Center the singers found
> >> themselves trapped in
> >> same sonic void. Various tweaks, including some sort of
> >> amplification, were tried over the years. None particularly
> >> successfully.
> >> Hope this hasn't veered too far off-ARSC-topic.
> >> Peter Hirsch
> >> On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:09 AM, Tom Fine
> >> <[log in to unmask]>
> >> wrote:
> >> http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/music/232941131.html
> >>> Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis was a non-ideal recording venue
> >>> in
> >>> 1950s. Fortunately, Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony made music
> >>> good enough to out-shine the inferior hall acoustics.
> >>> Unfortunately, nearby Edison High School and its good-sounding
> >>> auditorium weren't discovered until very late in the Mercury-MSO
> >>> -- Tom Fine
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