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What is Tanglewood?

Tanglewood is a cherished cultural gem nestled in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, renowned for its idyllic setting and as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This enchanting music venue hosts a variety of concerts, from classical to contemporary, amidst its lush landscapes. Curious about the magic of Tanglewood's performances under the stars? Join us to explore its symphonic splendor.

Tanglewood is the venue in Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, that is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and host to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival and Tanglewood Music Festival. The site's history goes back to 1936 when Mrs. Gorham Brooks and Miss Mary Aspinwall Tappan gave the Tappan family estate, Tanglewood, to Mr. Serge Koussevitzky, leader of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Ever since, the site has hosted the festivals on its grounds. The venue comprises 526 acres (212.86 hectares) and hosts around 350,000 people annually.

The seeds from which this venue grew were sown in 1934 when a small group of Berkshire residents presented the New York Philharmonic at Interlocken. The residents presented a second summer festival the season after and then again in 1936, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra was included in the repertoire and the venue was moved to Holmwood. Some 15,000 people attended the 1936 festival, which was presented under a giant tent. Finally, in 1937, the festival moved to the Tanglewood venue and assumed the name Tanglewood Musical Festival that it still uses today.

Tanglewood in Massachusetts is the place for summer Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts.
Tanglewood in Massachusetts is the place for summer Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts.

The site grew rapidly through the 1940s and saw the erection of the several buildings which make up the core structures of the venue today. By 1941, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Theatre-Concert Hall, the Chamber Music Hall and a number of smaller studios were completed. This expansion meant that the venue could then welcome approximately 100,000 visitors per year.

The complex underwent extension in 1986 which saw it almost double in size from its original 210 acres (85 hectares). The acquisition of the new property meant that the committee could move the site of their concert hall to its present location. This new concert hall was given the name The Seiji Ozawa Hall and was inaugurated on 7 July 1994. The new hall has allowed the Tanglewood concerts to admit more visitors and expand its range of performances. The site also hosts two music schools, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) and the Tanglewood Music Center, where musical luminaries such as Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Lukas Foss have all instructed the school's budding musicians.

The venue takes its name from the collection of short stories written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Tanglewood Tales. In 1850, Hawthorne rented a cottage from William Aspinwall Tappan in the Berkshires where he re-wrote a series of Greek myths. To commemorate the author's achievement, Tappan renamed the cottage Tanglewood, a name that the entire Tappan estate would eventually bear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Tanglewood and why is it famous?

Tanglewood is renowned as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and is celebrated for its rich history of hosting classical music performances. Located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, it has become a cherished cultural destination since its founding in 1937. Tanglewood is famous for its annual music festival, which features a wide range of musical events, including orchestral concerts, chamber music, and solo performances, attracting music lovers from around the world.

What types of music can be heard at Tanglewood?

While Tanglewood is primarily known for classical music, its repertoire is diverse, encompassing a variety of genres. Visitors can enjoy performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, and the Boston Pops, as well as chamber music, jazz, contemporary music, and pop concerts. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus and guest artists from around the globe also contribute to the rich tapestry of sounds that can be experienced at this iconic venue.

Can visitors attend educational programs at Tanglewood?

Yes, Tanglewood offers a range of educational programs through the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC), which is the BSO's summer academy for advanced musical study. The TMC provides young musicians with the opportunity to learn from distinguished artists and perform in concert settings. Additionally, Tanglewood hosts masterclasses, open rehearsals, and pre-concert talks, providing educational experiences for both performers and audiences alike.

What are the facilities like at Tanglewood?

Tanglewood boasts impressive facilities that blend natural beauty with functional performance spaces. The Koussevitzky Music Shed is the main concert hall, accommodating up to 5,000 people, with both covered and lawn seating. The smaller Seiji Ozawa Hall is acclaimed for its superb acoustics and intimate setting. The grounds also feature picnicking areas, allowing visitors to enjoy the scenic surroundings before and during performances.

How can someone attend a concert at Tanglewood?

To attend a concert at Tanglewood, one can purchase tickets through the official Tanglewood website or by contacting the box office. Tickets are available for individual concerts or as part of a season pass. It's advisable to book in advance, especially for popular events. Visitors can choose from a variety of seating options, including the indoor seats of the Koussevitzky Music Shed or the expansive lawn area, where many choose to picnic while enjoying the music.

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    • Tanglewood in Massachusetts is the place for summer Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts.
      By: Floki Fotos
      Tanglewood in Massachusetts is the place for summer Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts.