Acoustics: Childe Harold in New York

Soon after the trumpeted opening of New York's $17.7 million Philharmonic Hall last year, New York Times Music Critic Harold Schonberg confided to his readers that his heart raced ahead of his feet on his way to a concert there. Once inside, though, Schonberg soon found himself switching from seat to seat in hopes of hearing a bass, a cello—but like the classic Childe Harold, Schonberg found no happiness for all his roaming. At last he settled down in his assigned place in Row N, Left Loge, convinced that the best sounds were elsewhere—specifically, in Seat A 101.

Last spring,...

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