Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Orchestra Hall

Orchestra Hall is the centerpiece of the Max M. Fisher Music Center, a warm and elegant gem amongst Detroit’s music venues. Its superb acoustical qualities distinguish it as one of the finest concert halls in the world, with a historical legacy that few others can match.

The building was constructed at the insistence of Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a world renowned pianist and conductor of the fledgling Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He felt that a fine orchestra needed a fine hall and he found financial support within the community for his vision. Designed by noted theater architect C. Howard Crane, the project took less than five months to complete.

Opened in 1919, Orchestra Hall has showcased nearly every great name in classical and jazz music over the last century. Audiences have enjoyed intimate performances by Enrico Caruso and Isadora Duncan, George Gershwin and Sergei Rachmaninoff, Mitch Miller and Yo Yo Ma, to name only a few. By 1940, the Symphony had departed and the hall was renamed the Paradise Theater.  Serving neighboring Paradise Valley, the theater was the premier venue for Detroit’s African-American community, hosting Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and many others. The Paradise closed in 1950.

Within a few years the hall began deteriorating rapidly, and was finally slated for demolition in 1970. Musicians and community leaders mounted a last minute effort that saved the hall, preventing an architectural and cultural disaster. Since then, extensive restorations and the return of the DSO have allowed this landmark to regain its former glory. As part of “The Max” complex, Orchestra Hall offers Detroiters a world-class musical performance venue.



Orchestra Hall, 1975 - 2012.022.375

Students outside the Orchestra Hall, 1930s - 2013.028.118

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