1925 Steinway concert grand, rebuilt by Klavierhaus and gifted by Solomon Mikowsky
View of the ceiling (audience area)
View of the hall from the rear-right
View of the hall from the back
View of the hall from rear-left
Painting of the Havana Cathedral on the back wall
View of the rear wall of the hall (end of the grand staircase)
Painting on the rear wall of Christopher Columbus' landing in Cuba
Rear-right corner of the hall (space for folding chairs)
View of the front section of the ceiling (performers’ area)
Another view of the ceiling above the hall (audience area)
One of the four corners of the ceiling
View of the back of the hall
Space to the right of the seating area. There is a similar space on the left side
Plaque on the piano dedicated to my Cuban teacher
View of a section of the ceiling
Spanish insignia on the front wall
June 7, 2011
Dear friends, colleagues, students and alumni,
I just returned from Havana, Cuba, for one day, on my way to China. I want to share my excitement with the beauty of the hall I dreamt about for years. As you can see from the enclosed pictures, it is a magnificent concert venue. Let me add that the acoustics are ideal and the concert grand piano I gifted for the hall is an absolutely great instrument.
In one of my previous visits to my home country, I had conversations with the historian of the city of Havana, Mr. Eusebio Leal, about the possibility of finding the proper venue for a recital hall where talented Cuban music students could perform. Mr. Leal proposed two halls available for that purpose, but neither of them met the requirements that I envisioned.
In my trip last year, he informed me that he had found what he felt was the ideal place but that it needed total renovation. It also needed, of course, the instrument that I provided. It is a 1925 Steinway concert grand, also rebuilt to its original beauty by Klavierhaus in New York. I spent more than one year trying to ship it from New York to Havana, facing all kinds of problems because of the American commercial embargo with Cuba. I tried through Mexico, Canada, Hamburg, and even China out of desperation! Thanks to the help of many people who understood the unfairness of trying to prevent a valuable educational tool from reaching music loving students in Cuba, I was able to ship it through Canada. Its arrival felt like a miracle!
Mr. Leal has won admiration and respect worldwide for his undertaking of the renovation of all the important architectural landmarks in the old section of Havana. Tourists coming from all over the world cannot but admire the fact that Havana, instead of presenting itself as a typical Caribbean city full of Hiltons and Holiday Inns, is able to make them experience the architectural and cultural treasures of colonial Cuba during the previous three centuries.
As a matter of fact, the building where the hall is located, is part of what has become a "Patrimony of Humanity" as declared by the United Nations in 2003. Mr. Leal is a true artist and a man of infinite culture who deals with every detail in the reconstruction of these buildings, each containing a large plaque detailing its history. The particular building you are looking at in the photos was built in 1909 by the large and rich Spanish community living in Havana at that time.
Its original name was "El Casino Espanol" (the Spanish Casino). In spite of the name's implication, it was a social gathering place. The main hall was located on the third floor with a grand staircase leading up to it. It has now become a wonderful recital hall, rivaling the most beautiful performance places in Europe. A large modern elevator has been installed to facilitate access including wheelchairs.
I hope all of you will be able to visit Havana some day and even attend or perform in the new hall.
View of the Prado Boulevard as seen from one of the front balconies (looking to the right)
View of the Prado Boulevard facing the building
View of the Prado Boulevard from one of the balconies (looking to the left)
View of the building from the Prado Boulevard. The hall is located on the top floor (3rd) with a grand staircase leading up to it as well as a large elevator