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spacer Avery Fisher, New York City, 1976
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Avery Fisher, New York City, 1976

Although he was in many ways the father of high-end audio, the man who started the Fisher Radio Company that developed the first consumer transistorized amplifier and stereo phonograph player, Avery is probably best known for the name that appears over the doors of Lincoln Center’s famed concert hall, home of the New York Philharmonic, on whose stage he here stands in the midst of the renovation he bankrolled. A voracious lover of music, Avery often attended programs at what was earlier called Philharmonic Hall – and didn’t like the way the way the orchestra sounded. But he was a man who put his money where his mouth was. An amateur violinist, he often invited world-class musicians over to his Manhattan apartment on weekends for impromptu performances. When Isaac Stern once complained about the piano there, Fisher went out the next day and bought a Bosendorfer, often considered by serious musicians to be better sounding, and certainly more expensive, than the Steinway it replaced. Similarly, when told by NY Philharmonic management that the orchestra didn’t sound as perfect as it otherwise might because of problems with the hall’s acoustic design, Avery reached into his pocket and wrote a check for $10 million to fix the space. The first time I met him, I stood outside his East Side apartment knocking on the door for about five minutes, the length of time it took to get to the silence between tracks on the excellent but relatively obscure Little Feat record “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” He was, needless to say, playing it very loud. “The best sounding rock album ever made,” Avery declared, complimenting the skills of the recording’s engineer, George Massenberg. Tough to argue. It still sounds great, as does Avery Fisher Hall.

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