Pittsburgh Symphony was founded in 1896, and its ambitions were as big as its sound right from the start—Andrew Carnegie, an early backer, and Victor Herbert, a flashy conductor with a taste for the theatrical, reportedly claimed that theirs was the best orchestra in the country. The century that followed was no less dramatic, studded with conductors who made a lasting impression with their own distinct styles, a Depression-era hiatus, and even a run-in with the law for flouting a statute forbidding secular music-making on Sundays. The resulting controversy renewed public interest in the Symphony, vaulting it once again to its current status as a nationally renowned organization.
Converted from an opulent movie palace into the Pittsburgh Symphony's home in 1971 when Americans swore off movies in favor of high culture forever, the magnificent Heinz Hall delights audiences with stellar acoustics. Two 15-foot crystal chandeliers and an array of Levanto marble columns cast a glow over the Great Hall.