Hear Peter Allen's Historic 1958 Broadcast of Van Cliburn from Carnegie Hall

Monday, October 10, 2016 - 10:42 AM

Peter Allen outside the Metropolitan Opera House (courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera Archives)

Peter Allen, former voice of the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast and former WQXR announcer, passed away in his Manhattan home on Saturday. He was 96.

Allen's broadcasting career in New York began in 1947 at WQXR. He also served as the Met radio host for 29 seasons. As a tribute to his outstanding accomplishments in radio, we have resurfaced his historic WQXR live broadcast of pianist Van Cliburn from Carnegie Hall.

On May 19, 1958, some five weeks after winning the first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Cliburn gave a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall.

Joined by the Soviet conductor Kiril Kondrashin and the Symphony of the Air, the performance was billed as Cliburn's American broadcast debut and it featured the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor. As encores, he presented a movement of Rachmaninoff's Etude Tableaux Op. 39 and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12.

The Symphony of the Air begins the evening with Prokofiev's Classical Symphony.

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Comments [11]

gary friedland from NEW JERSEY

I ALWAYS LISTEN TO WQXR AS A YOUNG TEENAGER AND NOW AS AN OLDER PERSON,
A GREAT STATION FOR BOTH LIVE AND RECORDED CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR ALL CENTURIES
THAT HAS PRODUCED SUCH MUSIC FOR MANKIND. IT IS WITH GREAT SADNESS, THAT PETER ALLEN HAS PASSED,BUT HE HAS LEFT TO ALL OF US HIS CLASSICAL LEGACYTO BE CHERISHED FOREVER.

Oct. 13 2016 06:08 PM
gary friedland from NEW JERSEY

I ALWAYS LISTEN TO WQXR AS A YOUNG TEENAGER AND NOW AS AN OLDER PERSON,
A GREAT STATION FOR BOTH LIVE AND RECORDED CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR ALL CENTURIES
THAT HAS PRODUCED SUCH MUSIC FOR MANKIND. IT IS WITH GREAT SADNESS, THAT PETER ALLEN HAS PASSED,BUT HE HAS LEFT TO ALL OF US HIS CLASSICAL LEGACYTO BE CHERISHED FOREVER.

Oct. 13 2016 06:06 PM
susan paul from Asheville, NC

Milton Cross was a unique and very tough act to follow. I grew up with him living in my family's radio every Saturday afternoon, when he embodied the spirit and soul of the Metropolitan Opera, brought to us by the unlikely Texaco Oil Company. Mr. Allen was a less audacious, friendlier link to grandeur and high culture, more like the guy next-door. He was an accessible pleasure to listen to.

RIP Peter Allen and thanks for all the good hours of glorious music and good commentary.

Oct. 13 2016 12:13 PM
Mimi Simon from NJ

I worked at WQXR for seven years beginning in the mid 1950's and remember Peter Allen well. Aside from his stellar radio voice, he was always a gentleman. I was saddened to hear that he had died but happy he had lived such a long life.

Oct. 12 2016 04:55 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Very fine announcer. A joy to listen to. Good radio voices are in short supply. He Is now in the great broadcast booth in Heaven.

Oct. 11 2016 12:26 PM

Hooray for Marilyn's little radio, a priceless moment.

Peter Allen, what a voice, what demeanor. No doubt, a full life!

Oct. 11 2016 09:44 AM
Steve L. from Morristown, NJ

I will forever miss the mellifluous voice and insightful comments of Peter Allen. He was truly a joy to listen to. RIP Peter!

Oct. 11 2016 12:12 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Maybe few other listeners care about this kind of tone-deaf (so to speak) programming; and maybe the over-played "Rienzi"overture was already scheduled for this time slot, but here I go again. Elliott Forrest just announces the death of long-time WQXR opera broadcast host Peter Allen, concluding with a statement about how we'd all learned so much about opera from the late Mr. Allen. Then, he announces music "from the world of opera" and, as is usually the case when that phrase is used, this forgettable overture from a forgotten opera is played. Mr. Allen and his fellow opera fans would have been much better served by the station's playing a vocal selection (of all things!!) from an opera. After all, that is what most of us go to hear.

Oct. 10 2016 06:02 PM
marilyn from Cambria Heights, NY

I guess this is a time when we all sit around exchanging our personal memories of Peter Allen. Back when I first switched from attending the opera after work on weeknights to attending on Saturday afternoons instead of listening to opera on the radio on Saturday afternoons, I used to bring a little battery radio with little earphones so that I could listen to Peter Allen's pre-opera talk and the really great intermission features that they used to have featuring people like Boris Goldovsky, Father Owen Lee, and that elderly lady who was an assistant conductor and had been a singer who sang Amneris when she was young. Anyway one Saturday, when the broadcast was over, I walked by the broadcast booth and saw Peter Allen was still there flipping through some papers. I tapped lightly on the window. He looked up and I held up my little radio and earphones. He laughed and I smiled, waved and walked away. I was impressed!

Oct. 10 2016 04:38 PM
Daniel Meeter

How wonderful to hear his voice again. Clear, calm, confident, competent, measured, patient, respecting his audience.

Oct. 10 2016 03:37 PM
CAROL from NYC

What a stellar man Mr. Allen was. Sorry to hear he has left us. He is one of the last of a breed of extremely devoted, caring, knowledgeable and respected "musicians." His non-singing voice brought warmth and admiration to the thousands of opera fans listening to the Met broadcasts. I remember him first as an announcer on WQXR and was very happy he became the new Met broadcaster. Never thought anyone could replace Milton Cross. But Mr. Allen did. He and Edward Downs were the voices we listened to, they brought opera to life over the radio. Rest in peace, Mr. Allen, after a lifetime of giving to us.

Oct. 10 2016 01:57 PM

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