The construction of Symphony Hall in 1900 was also one in a pattern of Boston construction projects on or near Huntington Avenue, a popular construction site as a result of the recently filled land it occupied. However, the majority of the larger construction projects were cultural institutions, among them the Boston Public Library, Horticultural Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the New England Conservatory of Music. Despite the unrelated nature of these constructions, their concentration, especially along the stretch of Huntington Avenue, led the area to be termed the Avenue of the Arts .
This infusion of cultural institutions into the newly formed landscape of Boston was, as some scholars note, a measure taken by the upper class to “provide a framework, in the visual arts and music, respectively, for the definition of high art, for its segregation from popular forms and for the elaboration of an etiquette of appropriation” . For the Boston elite, the Symphony Hall was a place for them to engage in high culture and escape from societal turmoil . While the proximity of these cultural buildings may not have been explicitly planned, the goal of solidifying the arts as an elite escape was intentional, as all of these cultural institutions were constructed in the newest part of town, away from the lower class. There is little information about how the Hall was received by the average Bostonian, as it was only really accessible to the upper-class.
Despite this exclusionary history, the BSO has made attempts to bring the inherently elitist institution of classical music to wider audiences, mainly through present day programming, including Youth Concerts, Student Tickets, and the Symphony for Our City program, which partners the BSO with numerous nonprofit organizations in the Boston area. However, efforts to make classical music more accessible are limited, as public schools have poor music education and lack resources . Although the BSO is well-intentioned in their efforts to de-exclude the groups Boston elites sought to omit, the class divisions created by Symphony Hall largely persist.
The BSO’s current performing season at the Boston Symphony Hall is September through May, when they have concerts most Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings, in addition to Friday afternoons. See the Additional Information section below for more about how to plan your visit.
1.“The History of Symphony Hall,” Boston Symphony Orchestra Bso.Org, Accessed October, 2018.
2. Richard Dyer, After 105 Years, BSO to Enter a New Stage, Boston.Com, August 6, 2006.
3. Anne Simon Moffat, New Graphics Program Debuts in Concert Hall, Science 245, no. 4925 (1989): 1452.
4. Richard Poate Stebbins, “The Making of Symphony Hall—Boston A History with Documents,” Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, 2000.
6. Paul Dimaggio, “Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century Boston: The Creation of an Organizational Base for High Culture in America,” Media, Culture & Society 4, no. 1 (January 1982): 33–50.
7. Joseph Horowitz, Classical Music in America : A History of Its Rise and Fall. 1st ed. NewYork: W.W. Norton, 2005.
8. Juan Wang, “Classical Music: A Norm of ‘Common’ Culture Embedded in Cultural Consumption and Cultural Diversity.” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 47 (2016): 195–205.