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Monday, September 5, 2011

The BAM Timeline

Dating from its first performance at Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights in 1861, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has grown into a thriving urban arts center that brings international performing arts, media, and film to Brooklyn. After the fire that destroyed the original facility in 1903, BAM reopened at 30 Lafayette in 1908 with a grand gala evening featuring Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso in a Metropolitan Opera production of Gounod’s Faust. In the first half of the 20th Century BAM supported presentations by cultural figures as diverse as William Butler Yeats, Marian Anderson, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose 1940 appearance jammed the Fort Greene streets around BAM with over 6,000 spectators. After World War II, Brooklyn shared the growing problems of other urban centers throughout America, and BAM’s audience and support base declined.

Merce Cunningham and John Cage on Stage at BAM, How to Pass, Kick, Fall, and Run, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, 1970. Photo: James Klosty
By the time Harvey Lichtenstein was appointed executive director in 1967, the programs and facilities needed rethinking. He quickly set a new course for BAM by focusing on the work of challenging artists who were not being supported elsewhere in the city, such as Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, Jerzy Grotowski, and Robert Wilson. Lichtenstein established the Next Wave Festival in 1983, recognized as the most influential festival of contemporary performing arts in the United States. Under the leadership of President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo, it is recognized internationally as a preeminent, progressive cultural center.

Download the BAM Timeline for a full list of BAM's most important moments, from1823 up to 2011.

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