How Tanglewood’s Shed got its name

Posted on: July 12, 2017

“This weekend, music lovers will gather in a shed to hear some of their favorite artists,” writes Lauren Feiner in Tuesday’s (7/11) Boston Globe. “The attraction is the Boston Symphony Orchestra, returning to its summer home in the Berkshires for performances throughout the season at Tanglewood. The ‘Shed,’ as the performance venue is known, got its name from the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, who proposed a costly and elaborate design. Asked to simplify his plans, Saarinen replied that the concert hall would end up as ‘just a shed.’ The orchestra’s trustees took this as a challenge, hiring Stockbridge engineer Joseph Franz to build the fan-shaped music hall, which was inaugurated on Aug. 4, 1938. For the previous two years, the orchestra didn’t have so much as a shed to perform in for its summer concerts. The BSO had performed at another Berkshire estate in 1936, to a crowd of 15,000 people across three performances.… Money for the building came after an outpouring of support from attendees—following a downpour [in 1937] that doused the entertainment…. Festival cofounder Gertrude Robinson Smith made an appeal to her guests [and] the festival raised $30,000 to build the Shed.”

Posted July 12, 2017