Sunday, April 20, 2003

Bob Dylan changed rock music with Music Hall act

Music Hall backdrop for 2-year courtship

Music Hall is where my future husband, Fred, and I met on a rainy New Year's Eve in 1936.

The great 1937 Ohio River flood soon followed, affecting both our homes in Newport. My house was flooded to the windowsills on the first floor; his was covered. We took refuge from the water with relatives in Westwood and Sharonville where acquaintance became romance.

During a two-year courtship, we frequently danced to music of the big bands in the Music Hall ballroom.

Our wedding was New Year's Eve 1938.

An etching of Music Hall hangs on my living room wall. May that notable building stand forever.

Kay (Dennis) Feting, Rochester, Minn.


Bob Dylan offered powerful performance

One of the most memorable moments of my life and certainly the most musically influential was watching Bob Dylan's appearance at Music Hall on Nov. 7, 1965. My $2.50 ticket allowed me to witness a performance so powerful that it would ingrain the name Dylan as a permanent fixture in my life for the next 38 years.

The first half of the concert was simply Dylan singing with his guitar and harmonica. The second half was Dylan fully plugged in with amplifiers and drums. This was considered the time he changed the course of rock music forever and went on to be considered the spokesman of his generation and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people of the last century.

I remember when a friend told me I should know the Bible the way I know Dylan's lyrics. I'm still working on it.

Other memorable concerts at Music Hall: The Who and the James Gang, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow.

Paul R. Gardner, Mason


Peter, Paul, Mary loved the acoustics

My favorite Music Hall memory was formed on Feb. 17, 1980. Despite a difficult pregnancy and a fever of 103 degrees, I was determined to take my husband to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert at the Hall for his birthday. The standing-room-only crowd swayed and sang along with this memorable trio; the mood was mellow and nostalgic. Most of us in attendance were former "flower children" who enjoyed the music of the folk era.

The highlight of the evening occurred when Peter Yarrow praised the perfect acoustics of the building and announced that for a few songs the group would perform a canella. The audience was totally entranced by the crystal-clear harmony emanating from the singers. I had been to four previous PP&M concerts, but the venues in which I had heard them did a disservice to their talents. How fortunate were we to have a concert hall that allowed music to be heard as it was truly intended.

The singers were evidently just as moved as we were; and at the end of the performance, Peter invited the entire crowd to join him backstage for chatting and autographs.

I still have my ticket with the signatures of Peter, Noel Paul Stoke and Mary Travers.

Julianne Schuck, Highland Heights, KY


Class trip brought students into grandeur

My first introduction to Music Hall was to a special school production of the Cincinnati Symphony in 1947. I was one of many underprivileged children from Over-the-Rhine area schools chosen to go.

I was in the third grade, and this was a great privilege. I had never heard of Music Hall or a symphony, but I was excited about going. My first impression was that a king or queen must surely live in such a great and beautiful building. I was awestruck at the dazzling chandelier and the red velvet seats. I loved the lady playing the harp and the violinist. The music was beautiful. I dreamed of returning someday to this beautiful place.

On March 29, to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, my husband and I enjoyed Symphony No. 10 directed by Paavo Jarvi. It was my husband's first visit. I certainly hope this grand old building of Music Hall will be apart of Cincinnati for future generations of children, as well as seniors to enjoy.

Erma Shelton, Williamsburg


Singers had time of their lives at hall

As a 10-year old student at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in 1974, I was selected to sing in the summer opera's children's chorus at Music Hall. A gang of us had the time of our lives that summer, rehearsing for operas like Boris Godonov and Turandot, playing jacks on slippery backstage floors and using the narrow space between up-and-down lobby escalators as makeshift slides. That same year the Nutcracker tradition began, and I spent my holidays dancing as a party child and soldier with the Cincinnati Ballet at Music Hall. We kids all peeked from backstage at the adult dancers and dreamed of being a sugarplum fairy some day.

Although I didn't become a professional singer or ballerina, just an appreciative patron of the arts, I'll always cherish the years I spent backstage at Music Hall. Kathleen Friel Reinmann, Mount Lookout


Children's chorus played birds, pilgrims

My earliest memory of Music Hall was in 1927. I was part of the children's chorus in the May Festival. There were six Cincinnati Public Schools represented in which Alfred Hartzel was the music teacher.

We sang the part of the birds in St. Francis of Assisi and of pilgrims in Boris Godunow. It was a thrilling experience and I still have the program.

Now living in a retirement community, I met another resident who said she also was in that chorus, though from a different school. We thought it a happy coincidence that we would meet so many years later.

Mary Ruth Hopper, Sharonville


Former usher met big-league talent

I've had many favorite memories at Music Hall - most of them because my uncle, Joel Grossman, was head usher for the symphony opera for many years.

I would usher on many Fridays and Saturdays for the symphony and summer opera. I would usher in sections A, B, C or D on the balcony if there was a pianist (so I could see their fingers on the keyboard), or at the opposite end of the balcony for a violinist so I could see them better. The best part of the evenings was at the end, when my uncle would take me backstage to meet the soloists or members of the opera.

The lot of the musical superstars that I met is too big to mention. I really miss those weekends ushering at Music Hall. Now, I am just a regular paying customer with the deepest memories of my uncle Joel.

Les Polasky, Montgomery


Moment recorded in 1941 diary

I want to share following from a diary I found of my grandmother's from 1941. Her spelling of music is "musik." My grandmother, Marie Rohde Roeben, came to Cincinnati from Germany in 1890.

"May 3, 1941: The weather today was hot and dry. Last evening, May 2, Ruth (one of her daughters) and I went to a rehearsal at the Musik Hall at the invitation of Mrs. Kraus. It was very nice, about 600 children and 400 grown-ups were singing and I don't know how many musicians were on stage. The hall was filled with guests and it sure was very nice. The weather had been 80 degrees, but at night it cooled off.

"May 4, 1941: Margie (her other daughter and my mother) and myself went to the Musik Hall today to hear a May Festival Singing at the invitation of Mrs. Kraus. It sure was fine and we enjoyed it a lot. The temperature was up to 80 degrees again and tonight at 11 o'clock it was still pretty warm."

These aren't specific memories, simply diary entries, but thought readers might enjoy them as I do.

Sally Evans Sovilla, Anderson Township


Chandelier, staircases are singular treasures

My first remembrance of Music Hall was in 1927, when my aunt took me to see the circus. Other than the awe of the circus and the spacious hall, I always remembered the beautiful crystal chandelier in the center. Then in 1932, I got to experience the enormity of the stage when I sang with a large group of children at the May Fest. In 1938, my high school graduation was held there. Since, I have attended operas, ballets and symphonies and always enjoy the beautiful marble staircases and the crystal chandelier.

Wilma Pfister, St. Bernard

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