Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pittsburgh, it's the pits



Buffalo is not the only idiot city when it comes to historic preservation. Lastnight I was sitting around thinking about Leonard Pennario. And Pennario had made a few historic recordings with the Pittsburgh Symphony in a place called the Syria Mosque. I looked up the Syria Mosque.

That is it up above. And here is another view:



The Pittsburgh Symphony used to perform in the Syria Mosque. What happens in the place now? Nothing! It is a parking lot!

The Syria Mosque became a parking lot in 1992. Clearly, Pittsburgh wants to be more like Buffalo. It is too bad. What a classic hulking old place. It went up in 1915, originally built for the Shriners. Look at the lettering on the sign.

When it went, there was a big public outcry. Here is what I copied off a Pittsburgh Web site:

When the Syria Mosque was slated for destruction in August of 1991, Pittsburghers found themselves in an emotional discussion about the importance of music venues in the city.

With its ornate architectural exterior and distinctive sphinxes standing guard out front, the Mosque is remembered for its crystal-clear acoustics, 180 degree seating and balcony that almost reached to the stage. The Syria Mosque hosted everything from opera and orchestral music, most memorably concerts and historic recordings by the great pianist Leonard Pennario, to rock acts including Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen.


Here is a link to a short radio documentary about the Syria Mosque. I like two things about this radio clip. One is that when they talk about the place being demolished, they play "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." The other is that the guy being interviewed talked about how after that they formed Preservation Pittsburgh, and they formed it in a jail cell.

I know, I have a thing for old buildings. I do not like to see them become parking lots. Neither does my brother George. I am sure that George is aware of the Syria Mosque. George has been paying visits to Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium as it awaits the end. He said, "I visit the Aud as if it were a terminally ill friend."

At least Pennario never played in the Aud.

I should go down to the parking lot where the Syria Mosque used to be and put up a plaque. "On this site, Leonard Pennario recorded Gershwin's Concerto in F, with the Pittsburgh Symphony and William Steinberg, on Feb. 8, 1953." It's true! I know it thanks to my new friend Mark Heimbeck-Nielsen, an expert on Capitol Records. And on Feb. 22 Pennario went back to the Syria Mosque and played Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz" and Chopin's "Barcarolle."

That is a lot of information to put on a plaque, but I will manage.

P.S. Do check out the Pennario link -- here it is again if you don't want to scroll up. It is a great look at the art of recording, a 1957 New York Times story I found just by Googling Pennario and the Syria Mosque. What I like about the story is how it mentions Pennario by last name only. He is like Horowitz. He is legend!

8 comments:

Mike Miller said...

Mary, the sad thing is that we've had to fight so hard for the Central Terminal for the last 11 years. And the fight is STILL not over. I'd still say that it's endangered, because our event revenue and grant funding is just enough for general maintenance of the status quo and some modest capital improvements. Large sections of the complex are still in need of sealing and is are in desperate need of repointing, before the bricks fall right off.

Where is the outcry? I'm tired of yelling. The Livery gets activists out like a cause celebre, but yet, on the eastside, no one cares. Sorry to be so much of a downer, but Buffalo needs a reality check!

Howard Goldman said...

Hi Mike,

What Big Blue has taught me about pointing old brick is that 99.99% of the expense is labor. Mortar is best manufactured in-house by collecting sand from Lake Erie for free and combining it with $8.00 fifty pound sacks of hydrated lime. Appx 3 parts sand to 1 part lime. So for $8.00 you wind up with around 200 pounds of mortar, which is huge. For newer brick construction you can add some portland cement which is also cheap as dirt. 1929 construction may have contained some portland in the mortar and it is easy to tell just by looking at it and evaluating the hardness.

Rent an aerial work platform or two (or recruit some dare-devils) and get some volunteers up there to structurally deep point the worst brick just to secure it. You can leave the final surface pointing for the future. That will keep the lose bricks from cascading and it will buy time. (Spray some water on the brick before you apply the mortar to slow down the brick's absorption of the water from the mortar.)

Its actually a great way to spend some nice warm afternoons. You can do the job up to one month before you expect freezing temperatures.

Mike Miller said...

For those that may be interested in an example of what I am talking about, please read an article I wrote last year on Buffalo Rising about changing perceptions on the east side:

http://www.buffalorising.com/story/changing_perceptions_of_the_ea

Hi Howard, our biggest issue is on the tower and that is 271' tall! We need millions of dollars and extensive surrounding scaffolding, like City Hall had a couple years ago. We've already addressed those areas we can reach, but the tower is too big a challenge for us.

Howard Goldman said...

Mike,

Maybe a suspended window washing scaffold would work. http://www.skyclimber.com

I saw them using a small unit over at Delaware Towers recently. They use glorified electric drills to power the thing up and down. The height is limited only by the length of rope.

Maybe get a few roofers to ride that thing. They have no fear.

Mike Miller said...

Thanks for the ideas, Howard. I wouldn't wany any of my volunteers to take such a risk. Keep in mind too, that the tower is in a natural wind tunnel. It makes even replacing the plexiglas that blows out very dangerous. It has to be done from the inside, with 4 guys holding on to each other so they don't get sucked out of the building. Scares me just thinking about it!

markhn said...

Hi Mary,

If you're going to do a plaque, might as well be complete.

CAPITOL RECORDS SESSIONS HELD AT THE SYRIA MOSQUE IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2237) February 9, 1952
SCHUBERT - Symphony #2 in B Flat Major:
9442 1st movement, Part 1
9443 1st movement, Part 2
9444 2nd movement, Part 1
9445 2nd movement, Part 2
9446 3rd movement
9447 4th movement
All parts issued on Cap. L-8161, P-8162.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2238) February 9, 1952
SCHUBERT - Symphony #8 in B Minor ("Unfinished"):
9436 1st movement, Part 1
9437 1st movement, Part 2
9438 1st movement, Part 3
9439 2nd movement, Part 1
9440 2nd movement, Part 2
9441 2nd movement, Part 3
All parts issued on Cap. L-8160, P-8162, Pickwick S-4001.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2239) February 10, 1952
BEETHOVEN - Symphony #6 ("Pastorale"):
9448 1st movement, Part 1
9449 1st movement, Part 2
9450 2nd movement, Part 1
9451 2nd movement, Part 2
9452 2nd movement, Part 3
9453 3rd movement, Part 1
Cap. LAL-9024
9454 3rd movement, Part 2
Cap. LAL-9024
9455 4th movement, Part 1
9456 4th movement, Part 2
9457 5th movement
All parts issued on Cap. P-8159, Pickwick S-4009.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2433) November 17, 1952 and
(Session #2433-A) November 18, 1952
MENDELSSOHN - Symphony N° 3 in A minor, Opus 65 ("Scotch")
Cap. P-8192

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - WAGNER:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2434) November 17, 1952
Siegfried's Rhine journey (from "Götterdämmerung)
Siegfried's funeral music (from "Götterdämmerung)
Prelude (from "Tristan und Isolde")
Liebestod (from "Tristan und Isolde")
Cap.FAP-8216
All titles issued on Cap. P-8185, Pickwick S-4010.
Excerpt from second title "Siegfried's funeral music"
Cap.FAP-8216

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg with Harry Franklin (on piano).
(Session #2460) November 24, 1952
Ernest BLOCH - Concerto Grosso for string orchestra with piano obbligato
Cap. P-8212, SAL-9020
William SCHUMAN - Symphony for strings
Cap. P-8212, SAL-9020
Note: Above titles were recorded at the Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg with The Mendelssohn Choir, directed by Russell B. Wichmann, featuring Robert B. Anderson (baritone) and Nell Rankin (vocals).
(Session #5015) November 30, 1952
Ralph VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS - Five Tudor Portraits, Parts 1 and 2
Cap. P-8218

LEONARD PENNARIO/THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
Leonard Pennario (on piano) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2447) February 8, 1953
GERSHWIN - Concerto in F for piano and orchestra
Cap. P-8219

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2448) February 9, 1953
MOZART - Symphony N° 35 in D major, K.385 ("Haffner")
MOZART - Symphony N° 41 in C major, K.551 ("Jupiter")
Both titles issued on Cap. P-8242.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2449) February 10, 1953
MAHLER - Symphony N° 1 in D major
Cap. P-8224

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - Johann STRAUSS:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #2450) February 11, 1953
Acceleration waltz, Opus 234
Cap.FAP-8239
Adele waltz Opus 424
Cap.FAP-8239
Emperor waltz Opus 437
Champagne polka Opus 211
Cap.FAP-8240
Perpetuum mobile Opus 257
Cap.FAP-8240
Thunder and lightning polka Opus 324
Cap.FAP-8240
Pizzicato polka
Tritsch-tratsch polka Opus 214
Cap.FAP-8240
Annen polka Opus 117
All titles issued on Cap. P-8222; Pickwick S-4011?.

LEONARD PENNARIO:
Leonard Pennario (on piano).
(Session #2449) February 22, 1953
LISZT - Mephisto waltz
Cap. L-8246, P-8246

LEONARD PENNARIO:
Leonard Pennario (on piano).
(Session #2450) February 23, 1953
CHOPIN - Barcarolle in F sharp minor, Opus 60
Cap. L-8246, P-8246
Note: Session numbers for above sessions have been shown as #2449/50 in Capitol files, but could have been changed later on to
2451/52 in order to avoid duplication with previous Pittsburgh sessions.

NATHAN MILSTEIN:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5048) November 28, 1953
BRUCH - Concerto in G minor, Opus 26 for violin and orchestra
MENDELSSOHN - Concerto in E minor, Opus 64 for violin and orchestra
Both titles issued on Cap. P-8243.

NATHAN MILSTEIN:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5049) November 29, 1953
BRAHMS - Violin Concerto in D major, Opus 77 unissued (see session #5097 - April 13, 1954)

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5050) November 30, 1953
TCHAIKOVSKY - Serenade for strings
Cap. P-8290
PROKOFIEV - Classical Symphony in D Major, Opus 28
Cap. P-8290
Excerpt from first title:
TCHAIKOVSKY - Waltz from "Serenade for strings"
Cap. PAO-8426

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5051) December 1, 1953
STRAVINSKY - Le sacre du printemps
(The rite of Spring)
Cap. P-8254
Excerpt from above:
The rite of Spring
Cap.SAL-9027

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5081) January 25, 1954
RACHMANINOFF - Symphony N° 2
Cap. P-8293

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5082) January 26, 1954
Richard STRAUSS Death and transfiguration
Richard STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel
Both titles issued on Cap. P-8291, Pickwick S-4028.

NATHAN MILSTEIN/THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
Session #5097) April 13, 1954
BRAHMS - Violin Concerto in D major, Opus 77 (remake)
Cap. P-8271

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5098) April 14, 1954
TCHAIKOVSKY - Symphony N° 6 in B minor Opus 74 ("Pathetique")
Cap. P-8272; Pickwick S-4026

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5099) April 15, 1954
BEETHOVEN - Symphony N° 5 in C minor, Opus 67
Cap. P-8292; Pickwick S-4021

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5100) April 16, 1954
BEETHOVEN - Symphony N° 8 in F major, Opus 93
Cap. P-8292; Pickwick S-4021

NATHAN MILSTEIN/THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5183) January 10, 1955
BEETHOVEN - Violin concerto in D major, Opus 61
Cap. P-8313
Note: Date as shown in Pittsburgh Orchestra files. It was listed as January 19 in Milstein artist files.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5184) January 11, 1955
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV - Scheherazade
Cap. P-8305; Pickwick S-4029

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5231) April 19, 1955
TCHAIKOVSKY - Symphony N° 5 in E minor, Opus 64
Cap. P-8325

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5303) October 30, 1955
BEETHOVEN - Symphony N° 3 in E flat major, Opus 55 "Eroica"
Cap. P-8334; Pickwick S-4036
Excerpts from above:
Eroica (Excerpts) Cap.S 9031,W 9031

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5366) April 17, 1956
BRAHMS - Symphony N° 1 in C minor, Opus 68
Cap. P-8340, L/SL-9203; Pickwick S-4004; CD Angel 5-69026-2

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - WAGNER:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5367) April 18, 1956
Parsifal: Prelude and Good Friday Music
Die Meistersinger: Prelude to Act I
Siegfried idyll Cap. L/SL-9204; Angel S-36952
All titles issued on Cap. P/SP-8368; Seraphim S-60166.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5368) April 19, 1956
BRUCKNER - Symphony N° 4 in E flat "Romantic"
Cap. P-8352

RUDOLF FIRKUSNY:
Rudolf Firkusny (on piano) and The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5439) October 13, 1956
BRAHMS - Piano concerto N° 1 in D minor, Opus 15
Cap. P/SP-8356

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5440) October 15, 1956
HINDEMITH - Mathis der maler
Cap. P/SP-8364

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5441) October 16, 1956
TOCH - Symphony N° 3, Opus 75
Cap. P/SP-8364
Excerpt from above:
Symphony N° 3 - 3rd movement
Cap.SWAL-9032

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5515) March 25, 1957
ELGAR - Enigma variations, Opus 36
Cap. P/SP-8383

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5516) March 26, 1957
BEETHOVEN - Symphony N° 7 in A major, Opus 92
Cap. P/SP-8398, L/SL-9202; Pickwick S-4022
Excerpt from above:
Allegretto Cap. P/SP-8635

NATHAN MILSTEIN/THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5533) April 16, 1957
DVORAK - Concerto in A minor Opus 53 for violin and orchestra:
1st movement Cap. P/SP-8382; Angel S-35686
2nd movement Cap. P/SP-8382; Angel S-35686

NATHAN MILSTEIN/THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5534) April 17, 1957
DVORAK - Concerto in A minor Opus 53 for violin and orchestra: 3rd movement
Cap. P/SP-8382; Angel S-35686
GLAZOUNOV - Concerto in A minor, Opus 82 for violin and orchestra
Cap. P/SP-8382; Angel S-35686

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5535) April 18, 1957
VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS - Fantasia on a theme by Tallis
Cap. P/SP-8383

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5643) October 21, 1957
PROKOFIEV - Suite from "Love for Three Oranges"
Cap. P/SP-8445, L/SL-9228; Seraphim S-60293; Pickwick S-4008

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5644) October 21, 1957
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV - Suite from "Le Coq d'Or"
Cap. P/SP-8445, L/SL-9228; Seraphim S-60293; Pickwick S-4008

RUDOLF FIRKUSNY:
Rudolf Firkusny (on piano) and The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5645) October 26, 1957
BEETHOVEN - Piano Concerto N° 5 in E flat, Opus 73 "Emperor"
Cap. P/SP-8419, L/SL-9211; CD Angel 5-69018-2

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5646) October 28, 1957
MOZART - "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik", K.525
Cap. PAO/SPAO-8432, L/SL-9201; Pickwick S-4003

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5647) October 29, 1957
MOZART - Symphony N° 40 in G minor, K.550
Cap. PAO/SPAO-8432, L/SL-9200; Pickwick S-4001

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - CONCERT RUSSE:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5763) March 18, 1958
BORODIN - Dance of the Polovetsian maidens
(from "Prince Igor")
Cap. P/SP-8590; Seraphim S-60293
MUSSORGSKY - A night on bare mountain
Both titles issued on Cap. P/SP-8450, P/SP-8652.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5764) March 18, 1958
TCHAIKOVSKY - Marche slave, Opus 31
Cap. PCR/SPCR-8588, P/SP-8590
GLINKA - Kamarinskaya
Cap. P/SP-8652
Both titles issued on Cap. P/SP-8450.
First title is mentioned in artist file as also released on Seraphim S-60293,but this is not confirmed on album label copy.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5886) October 20, 1958
HANDEL - Water Music suite
Cap. L/SL-9201; Pickwick S-4003
HAYDN - Symphony N° 94 "Surprise"
Cap. L/SL-9200; CD Angel 5-69026-2
Both titles issued on Cap. P/SP-8495.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - RAVEL:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #5888) October 27, 1958
La valse
Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavanne for a dead princess)
Cap. P/SP-8590, P/SP-8652
Bolero
Cap. P/SP-8590, P/SP-8652,A/SA-8564
All titles issued on Cap. P/SP-8475.

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #8001) April 4, 1959
TCHAIKOVSKY - Capriccio Italien
Cap. P/SP-8515; Pickwick S-4027

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #8002) April 4, 1959
MENDELSSOHN - Symphony N° 4 in A Major, Opus 90 ("Italian")
Cap. P/SP-8515, L/SL-9204; Pickwick S-4027

THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #8003) April 6, 1959
WOLF - Italian serenade
Cap. P/SP-8515; Pickwick S-4027

NATHAN MILSTEIN/THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA:
Nathan Milstein (on violin) with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg.
(Session #8004) April 6, 1959
TCHAIKOVSKY - Violin concerto in D major, Opus 35
Cap. PBR/SPBR-8502, P/SP-8512; Angel S-35682, S-35686

Chris Byrd said...

I lived in Pittsboob back in the late 80s...saw a number of different things at the Mosque...incredible place...the event that stands out is seeing Howie Mandel...I think the reason it stands out is because it was at the time when he did his classic bit of placing a surgical glove over his head and inflating it...I was young...

I also got to see Husker Du there too...

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Pittsboob... hahahaaa!