Maurice Murray Weisman was general manager and vice president of Carnegie Hall Inc. from 1933 to 1935 and president from 1935 to 1939. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Weisman entered Harvard University in 1912, where he was active in the Harvard Drama Club. Weisman was an ensign in the U.S. Navy during World War I; his duties included insurance representative for the Navy. After the war, Weisman settled in New York City and began a career in real estate. His association with Carnegie Hall Inc. began in 1925, when Robert E. Simon, president of the 150 West 57th Street Realty Company, purchased Carnegie Hall from the estate of Andrew Carnegie. Weisman was also a member of the Henry Mandel Companies in 1931 when London Terrace was built (Henry Mandel was the president and owner of the new London Terrace complex in Chelsea).
Weisman was an innovative leader at Carnegie Hall who experimented with several new ideas to increase ticket sales. When he became general manager in 1933, Weisman was very interested in broadcasting. Under his direction, Carnegie Hall experimented with live radio in the summer of 1933, and he began a series of live broadcasts for the 1933-34 season. He also introduced other innovations, including a buffet area off the First Tier that offered light refreshments for concertgoers, a practice copied from the Metropolitan Opera House. This space is now the Rose Museum of Carnegie Hall.
In September of 1935 Robert E. Simon died unexpectedly from a heart attack, and Weisman was named president of Carnegie Hall Inc. Simon's son Robert E. Simon Jr., at the time only 21 years old, was named vice president. As president, Weisman was in charge of the remainder of the massive renovation of Carnegie Hall begun by Robert Simon Sr. in the summer of 1935. Physical changes to the building included a new ventilation system for the Main Hall (now Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage), a new stage floor, and general repairs and reconditioning of the exterior of the building.
During Weisman's tenure as president at Carnegie Hall, bookings increased steadily. He actively brought in new attractions and began several new series, including The Great Adventure Series, a Saturday morning program for children featuring lectures by adventurers such as Admiral Richard E. Byrd. Among the new artists Weisman brought to Carnegie Hall were Kirsten Flagstad, Artur Schnabel, and the National Orchestral Association.
In the spring of 1936, Weisman gave a radio talk over the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) entitled “Who Listens to Good Music?” The focus of the talk was the effects of radio broadcasting on classical music. Weisman believed that radio was a wonderful tool for bringing in a new market of music lovers, and that the increase in Carnegie Hall ticket sales could be attributed to the advent of live radio broadcasts from the Hall. His talk was broadcast across the country on the CBS affiliates in 1936. Weisman received many praiseworthy notes and telegrams for his remarks.
In the fall of 1937, with great fanfare, the General Motors Hour began at Carnegie Hall. The GM Hour was broadcast weekly starting on October 3, 1937, and was a tremendous success. Other broadcasts included a series of Christmas concerts which were broadcast in December of 1937. These concerts were free to the public, which Weisman hoped to make an annual tradition at Carnegie Hall.
Weisman resigned from Carnegie Hall in 1939. He was succeeded by Robert E. Simon Jr.
The M. Murray Weisman Collection consists of one scrapbook approximately 5 inches thick, on loan from Susannah Weisman Marks. The scrapbook is a chronological memoir of Weisman's professional achievements, starting with his acceptance into Harvard and ending with glowing previews of the upcoming Carnegie Hall season of 1938-39. The scrapbook contains letters, telegrams, newspaper clippings, transcripts of speeches and photographs. Most pertinent to Carnegie Hall are the materials from 1933 to 1938. In this time frame are telegrams, letters, and newspaper clippings about Weisman's ascendancy from general manager to president, his involvement with radio and the development of new programming, and the general success of Carnegie Hall. Also included are transcripts of his radio talk, “Who Listens to Good Music,” and the free Christmas concert and broadcast of 1937.
There are important photographs of the GM Hour taken in the Main Lobby from 1937. These photographs capture the atmosphere of Carnegie Hall in the 1930s. There are also photographs from the dinner after the GM opening broadcast October 7, 1937. These photographs capture Weisman and Eugene Molyneux, vice-president of Carnegie Hall Inc., and members of GM and NBC who were responsible for the GM Hour. Among the correspondence in the scrapbook are congratulatory letters and telegrams from business colleagues, family and friends. Music industry figures include New York Philharmonic conductor John Barbirolli, Philharmonic manager Bruno Zirato, and New York Times music critic Olin Downes. There is an invitation to a Steinway Gala in honor of Josef Hofmann's fiftieth anniversary, November 28, 1937. There are also two letters from artist Jane Freeman, who kept a studio in Carnegie Hall for several years, and a letter from former tenant Mary Daschbach to Carnegie Hall rental agent Leonora Shier concerning Weisman's radio talk.
This small collection of memorabilia is very valuable to the history of Carnegie Hall. It includes information on the development of radio, as well as alterations to Carnegie Hall and the progress of the booking department during the 1930s. Significantly missing in the scrapbook is Weisman's resignation from the Carnegie Hall presidency; however, this scrapbook is a tribute to his accomplishments at Carnegie Hall.
Carnegie Hall Archives March 1, 1992
If the collection is to be used for research, researchers must receive approval from the family in writing in advance.
The M. Murray Weisman Scrapbook was created by the former president of Carnegie Hall and consists of personal memorabilia. The scrapbook is on loan from the Weisman family. The primary contact in the family is Susannah Weisman Marks, Depot Road, Old Chatham New York, 12136. Ms. Marks was contacted by Archivist Gino Francesconi April 18, 1988. The scrapbook was delivered to the Carnegie Hall Archives by Mr. and Mrs. Marks in May of 1988. The collection is on permanent loan from the Weisman family. If the collection is to be used for research, researchers must receive approval from the family in writing in advance.