How to fill Carnegie Hall? Shun the NY Times

The pianist and playwright Israela Margalit shares a telling incident in the life of her friend, the Hungarian legend Annie Fischer.

annie fischer

Annie Fisher took me under her wings when I was a young pianist. As I remember, Annie had her Carnegie Hall Recital debut quite late in her life. It was on a Sunday, at 3 o’clock.

Tickets were selling poorly.

On the Friday before we had lunch at the Russian Tea Room. Annie told me that she had declined a request from the New York Times for an interview with Harold Schoenberg. I was stunned and told her everyone in the music business would kill for such an interview. I urged her to say yes, saying people would love to read it, and it would help ticket sales. Annie said she never gives interviews and she’s not going to start now.

On Sunday I came to Carnegie Hall and saw a line around the block. People heard about the recital and came in droves to buy tickets. The concert started late and the hall was full.

What happened between Friday and Sunday? we asked Israela.

Word of mouth, she replied.

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  • Annie Fischer was a superlative musician and pianist. This is a great story. Today, however, word of mouth is but one component. The social media networks have helped people learn about people they had once not had access to or known about.

  • Yes: a great story about a great musician, a person of enormous integrity who always disliked the “business” end of music and would absolutely HATE what is going on in that area nowadays. Unfortunately as a chain-smoker, she stopped coming to the US to play when airlines began to prohibit smoking on board.

    • I understand her nickname with London orchesta musicians was Ashtray Annie. I revere her recordings.

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