Music History

A Brief History of Massey Hall

[Frequent contributor Juliette Jagger was asked by the National Music Centre in Calgary to write the history of Massey Hall. – AC]

Known as the Grand Old Lady of Shuter Street, Toronto’s Massey Hall has long existed as one of the city’s most iconic cultural fixtures. Celebrated for its rich acoustics and ornate interior, the intimate concert hall has hosted some of the century’s greatest musical minds. From opera stars such as Albani and Caruso to celebrated jazz musician Oscar Peterson, musical prodigy Glenn Gould, and even rock ‘n’ roll greats like Neil Young, many have graced its unrivaled stage. Over the course of its more than 120-year history, Massey Hall has become the site of countless gatherings, classic performances, speeches and sporting events, and in turn woven itself into the fabric of the city’s very identity.

Officially established in 1894 by local manufacturing tycoon Hart A. Massey, Massey Hall was built in memory of Hart’s son Charles who died tragically of typhoid in 1884.

At that time, Hart Massey, who had inherited his own father’s agricultural business decades prior in 1856 and built it into the hugely successful equipment manufacturer it had become, actually held the Ontario production rights to an assortment of reapers and mowers, which led the company to achieve international recognition.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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