Here's Why They Called Her the 'Duchess of Carnegie Hall'

Friday, November 08, 2013 - 03:00 PM

Editta Sherman Editta Sherman (Josef Astor)

Editta Sherman, a photographer dubbed the "Duchess of Carnegie Hall," died last week at age 101.

Sherman lived above the famed New York City hall for six decades. Billy Lyons, an actor and Sherman's friend, says she died Friday in her sleep.

Sherman was known for her portraits of musicians, actors and writers taken at Carnegie Hall. She was forced out of her studio in 2010 in a landlord-tenant battle.

A book of Sherman's portraits, titled Studio 1208: Camera Studies by Editta Sherman, is due out early next year. The number of her penthouse studio was 1208, with clients ranging from Elvis Presley and Joe DiMaggio to Tilda Swinton.

Below is a selection of classical musician portraits from the book, courtesy of its editor, Vicki Hansen.

David Mannes, violinist, conductor and co-founder of the Mannes College of Music

Leonard Bernstein, conductor and composer

Virgil Thomson, composer and writer


Leopold Stokowski, conductor

Ezio Pinza, bass


Clifford Curzon, pianist

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Comments [3]

William Lee from Brooklyn

Very nice, but, outside of Dutchess County, New York, duchess is usually spelled without a "t"!

Nov. 10 2013 11:38 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

What a treasure left to posterity by "The Duchess" is manifested by the photographs excerpted above. She, heretofore completely unknown to me, certainly captured what I think is the essence of her subjects. Regarding Clifford Curzon, I understand he was one who always played from the full score. (Claude Rains, I understand, always memorized the entire script). Regarding the Stokowski comment by Mr. Lane about why Stokowski wasn't re-engaged by the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I can only say what a shame! It's another instance of one wondering "what might have been", especially with the "state -of- the- art" technology then available. I've also never heard this before. But the Victor company did record "Gurre-lieder" in its entirety on 11 April 1932 at Philadelphia's Metropolitan Opera House with Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra and Paul Althouse, Jeanette Vreeland and Rose Bampton as Waldemar, Tove and Wood-Dove, respectively. While at the Houston Symphony, Stokowski did record the Shostakovich Eleventh Symphony that he gave the American premiere of. If memory serves, he wanted to give the premiere and make the recording with the Symphony of the Air, but was rebuffed for the same reason as the Philadelphia Orchestra board in 1960's.

Nov. 10 2013 09:26 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

EDITTA SHERMAN marvellously in depth caught the essence of the personality of maestro LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI. In the 1960s Stokowski, "Stokie", was invited to return as THE maestro again for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
He had been conducting the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the invitation excited him. I was performing in
Houston at the time and he advised me through his friend Natasha to prepare the role of Waldemar in Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder to audition that role with him at his home in New York in an apartment house across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My rendition met with his approval. But the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra regarded the Gurre-Lieder as too ambitious financially. Disappointed he told them Gurre-Lieder or nothing. They did not relent. He returned to conducting the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Sadly, he should have capitulated to return in triumph to the Philadelphia Orchestra. His apartment in New York, with a view of the front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, contained the gong and other items from his film Fantasia and many African sculptures and artifacts of his wide-ranging, geographically and musically, career. His charisma was SO much Hollywood that when he was conducting an orchestra the sound seemed to glow with an aura unique to him. Toscanini, Beecham and Stokowski had that special "presence" which communicated to their audiences. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor, opera composer [ "Shakespeare"and "The Political Shakespeare], and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. My singing may be heard at the RECORDED SELECTIONS venue on my website www.WagnerOpera.com in 37 out of the 100 selections that I have sang in four three-hour-long solo concerts in the main hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium, of CARNEGIE HALL. On last Sunday October 27th at 5 PM, at the NEWLIFE EXPO at the New Yorker Hotel I sang my fourth concert in New York of the series "The 300 Greatest Love Songs of Broadway Musicals, Movies, and The Grammys." The 300 Love Songs on ten DVDs recorded live on the VALHALLA RECORDS label will be obtainable commercially on February 14th, 2014, Saint Valentine's Day.

Nov. 08 2013 08:41 PM

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