Legendary clarinetist Benny Goodman, here in concert in 1971, helped popularize jazz for mainstream audiences.

Photograph by Hans Bernhard, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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  • On January 16, 1938, Carnegie Hall played host to one of its most celebrated jazz concerts, organized by clarinetist Benny Goodman. In addition to helping kick-start the popular spread of jazz, the concert was a triumph for racial integration. During a period of widespread segregation, Goodman performed with his own band, which included African American members. 

    Although the Goodman concert was groundbreaking, it was far from the first time jazz was heard at Carnegie Hall. One of the earliest jazz concerts at the venue was in 1912, when James Reese Europe's Clef Club Orchestra performed. Europe, an African American composer, conductor, and musician, was later referred to as the "Martin Luther King of music" by jazz musician Eubie Blake.

    The presence of African American musicians at Carnegie Hall goes back even further. The classical soprano Sissieretta Jones, for instance, performed at the venue just two years after its founding, in 1892. 

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    composer Noun

    a person who writes music.

    conductor Noun

    leader of an orchestra or chorus.

    integration Noun

    process of mixing different substances or groups.

    jazz Noun

    American musical style with many variations, often featuring strong rhythms and difficult solos.

    segregation Noun


    soprano Noun

    the highest range of the female voice.

    venue Noun

    location of an event.