Academy of Music Restoration Fund

The Academy of Music is currently owned by The Philadelphia Orchestra and managed by Kimmel Center Inc. but the long-term caretaking of the building is overseen by a third entity: the Academy of Music Restoration Fund Office, a non-profit with its own board of trustees and a mission to raise all the money required for the ongoing capital projects that ensure the structural integrity and long-term preservation of a National Historic Landmark.

 

History Preserved

While Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Kimmel Center, and The Philadelphia Orchestra all present wonderful performances on the Academy of Music stage, not one dollar of the proceeds from ticket sales or from any of the private events held at the Academy goes to support the fundamental upkeep of this magnificent, but aging, building.

 

History Preserved

While Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Kimmel Center, and The Philadelphia Orchestra all present wonderful performances on the Academy of Music stage, not one dollar of the proceeds from ticket sales or from any of the private events held at the Academy goes to support the fundamental upkeep of this magnificent, but aging, building.

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The Academy of Music Restoration Fund Office raises funds in just two ways:

1. The Annual
Anniversary Concert
and Ball

BUY TICKETS

2. The Restoration and Preservation Fund Annual Giving Campaign

DONATE

The Academy of Music Restoration Fund Office raises funds in just two ways:

1. The Annual Anniversary Concert and Ball

BUY TICKETS

2. The Restoration and Preservation Fund Annual Giving Campaign

DONATE
 

Our History

The Academy of Music opened its doors in 1857, first for an inaugural ball on January 26th, and then, on February 25th, entrancing a glittering crowd with Verdi’s Il trovatore. Modeled on Milan’s famed La Scala, it is the oldest opera house in the United States still used for its original purpose…but it’s so much more!

Il trovatore set the stage for the Academy’s glorious role in opera. It has hosted the American premieres of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Gounod’s Faust, and Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Today, it’s home to Opera Philadelphia, the highly praised company offering everything from repertoire classics to 21st century originals.

The Academy is also sacred ground for orchestral music. It was the home of the storied Philadelphia Orchestra from 1900 to 2001, during which time the Orchestra established itself as one of the world’s greatest, with a vast number of premieres and innovations and, of course, the legendary Philadelphia Sound. The Orchestra returns here each year for the annual Anniversary Concert and Ball.

 

Our History

The Academy of Music opened its doors in 1857, first for an inaugural ball on January 26th, and then, on February 25th, entrancing a glittering crowd with Verdi’s Il trovatore. Modeled on Milan’s famed La Scala, it is the oldest opera house in the United States still used for its original purpose…but it’s so much more!

Il trovatore set the stage for the Academy’s glorious role in opera. It has hosted the American premieres of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Gounod’s Faust, and Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Today, it’s home to Opera Philadelphia, the highly praised company offering everything from repertoire classics to 21st century originals.

The Academy is also sacred ground for orchestral music. It was the home of the storied Philadelphia Orchestra from 1900 to 2001, during which time the Orchestra established itself as one of the world’s greatest, with a vast number of premieres and innovations and, of course, the legendary Philadelphia Sound. The Orchestra returns here each year for the annual Anniversary Concert and Ball.

1855

1855

President Franklin Pierce lays the cornerstone at the formal groundbreaking for the Academy, on June 18th.
1857

1857

The Academy of Music opens, with Verdi’s Il trovatore as the first performance. (Back then, it was a contemporary opera – it premiered in 1853!)
1865

1865

Abraham Lincoln’s funeral passes through Philadelphia; mourners watch the procession from the balcony of the Academy Ballroom.
1870

1870

Susan B. Anthony addresses a crowd from the Academy stage, arguing that women should have the right to vote.
1872

1872

The Republican National Convention is held at the Academy; President Ulysses S. Grant is nominated for a second term.
1873

1873

With the main level seats covered by a wooden stage, the Academy hosts a circus featuring Buffalo Bill Cody.
1889

1889

The University of Pennsylvania football team plays the Riverton Club of Princeton. Final score: zero-zero.
1891

1891

Peter Tchaikovsky conducts music from The Nutcracker.
1900

1900

The Philadelphia Orchestra begins its century-long run at the Academy; Fritz Scheel conducts.
1916

1916

The Philadelphia Orchestra gives the U.S. premiere of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, the “Symphony of a Thousand,” featuring 1,069 performers on a specially-built stage.
1940

1940

The Philadelphia Orchestra records the soundtrack for Disney’s 1940 animated film masterpiece Fantasia on the Academy of Music stage. Leopold Stokowski is on the podium.
1942 – 1945

1942 – 1945

During World War II, the basement lobby is transformed into the Stage Door Canteen. Over two million U.S. servicemen and women come in to relax, dine and dance, and try to forget the war, with help from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Abbott and Costello, Duke Ellington, Bette Davis, and Glenn Miller.
1957

1957

The First Anniversary Concert and Ball is held in January, on the Academy’s 100th birthday. The Philadelphia Orchestra performs, conducted by Eugene Ormandy and Danny Kaye, with guest artists including Marian Anderson, Isaac Stern, Arthur Rubenstein, and Dinah Shore.
1962

1962

The Academy is designated a National Historic Landmark.
1980 – 1989

1980 – 1989

The lobby’s walls are painstakingly restored with the original faux marble design.
1993

1993

Martin Scorsese’s film The Age of Innocence uses the Academy’s gold and red-velvet interior to evoke the Gilded Age luxury of Edith Wharton’s classic novel.
1994

1994

The 21st-Century Project begins. This multi-million-dollar renovation includes major structural work, backstage modernization, and audience-service improvements, all designed to keep the Academy of Music one of the foremost performing arts centers in the world.