More than ten years in planning and construction, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center has become a major landmark in North Texas and a source of prestige and pride for Dallas citizens. With its combination of extraordinary acoustics, distinguished architecture, and a magnificent concert organ, the Meyerson has joined the ranks of the world’s great halls.
Shulman’s book places the Meyerson in its socio-political context, tracing its history back to the early 1970s, when financial collapse forced the Dallas symphony to suspend operations. Drawing on interviews with more than 100 individuals as well as documentary resources, her narrative shows how the orchestra’s recovery process led to a splendid new hall. It is a tale of urban planning and reclamation, triumph over adversity, and unflagging commitment to the highest standards.
Plans took shape during an economic boom, then faltered during the steep recession of the mid-1980s. Financing was structured through a unique public/private partnership that has become a model for other communities around the United States. Three bond elections, the first of which failed, took place before the public sector’s commitment was ensured. H. Ross Perot’s signature donation of $10 million named the hall not for himself but for his friend and colleague Morton H. Meyerson. The hall’s steering committee assigned equal authority to architect and acoustician, an unprecedented arrangement that led to heated arguments about visual vs. aural aesthetics. Delays in securing a site in Dallas’ fledgling Arts District contributed to escalating costs, which in turn prompted political opponents of the project to level accusations of profligate spending and elitism.
The Meyerson Symphony Center: Building a Dream weaves together all these strands, relating this compelling story in the words of the people who made it happen. Shulman incorporates a wealth of information about city politics, a boom-to-bust economy, and the challenges of press and public relations, as well as significant new information about acoustics, architecture, and organ design.
"Who would have thought that a book about the building of a concert hall would read like a best-selling novel? It has drama, intrigue, suspense, larger-than-life protagonists, and even some humor. And there’s a happy ending—vision and commitment triumph over mediocrity, and the result is one of the world’s greatest concert halls."—Andrew Litton, Music Director, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
" . . . a beautiful book, scholarly, detailed, accurate—and loving. The [author's affection for the subject] is subtle, but it gives the work its special quality and will tip the book from pure reference to invaluable document."—Patsy Swank