Toronto Feature: Massey Hall

This text is from the free Toronto in Time app, which was created by The Canadian Encyclopedia and is available from the App Store and the Google Play store. Visit its companion website, which is linked below, to explore all the features of the app online.
This text is from the free Toronto in Time app, which was created by The Canadian Encyclopedia and is available from the App Store and the Google Play store. Visit its companion website, which is linked below, to explore all the features of the app online.


This content is from a series created in partnership with Museum Services of the City of Toronto and Heritage Toronto. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Toronto Feature: Massey Hall

"Jazz Greats Play Massey Hall"

This text is from the free Toronto in Time app, which was created by The Canadian Encyclopedia and is available from the App Store and the Google Play store. Visit its companion website, which is linked below, to explore all the features of the app online.

Ever since the opening night performance of Handel's Messiah on June 14, 1894, Massey Hall has hosted virtually every form of music. The famous jazz concert held there in 1953, featuring the great Charlie Parker(owing to contractual obligations, billed as "Charlie Chan"), Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Bud Powell, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach, made many people the world over hear about the hall for the first time. Each of the performers was a toweringfigure of jazz's first century, and this was the only time that they ever played together.

Whether it was "the Greatest Jazz Concert Ever," as it was called in one of the recordings made that night, the performance entered into music legend, along with the story that the musicians slipped across Yonge Street at intermission to watch a boxingmatch between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott.

Massey Hall, built by Hart Massey in honour of his late son Charles, was one of the greatest concert halls of the world in its day, and played host to such great musicians as Anna Pavlova, Enrico Caruso, GlennGould, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young and many others. It was the long time home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestraand the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. It has also hosted political rallies, boxing matches, and, in the case of runner Tom Longboat, a wedding.


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