Yonge 1990s

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Eaton Auditorium

Auditorium

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444 Yonge Street

The acoustics of this fabled performance hall, on the top floor of a department store, made it Glenn Gould’s favourite performance and recording space.

History

The Eaton Auditorium opened in 1931 on the seventh floor of Eaton’s department store at Yonge and College. Designed by French architect Jacques Carlu, the entire floor was exquisitely detailed in Art Deco style. The Auditorium rivalled Massey Hall for its programming, ranging from classical star Sergei Rachmaninoff and American singer Paul Robeson to British Invasion popsters Gerry & the Pacemakers. In 1945, a sextet led by pianist Willie “The Lion” Smith, Duke Ellington’s mentor, performed “Toronto’s first jazz concert.” But the Auditorium is best known as the place where Glenn Gould made his professional debut at the age of 14. The legendary pianist was so fond of its acoustics that he recorded several of his albums for Columbia Records there. The Eaton Auditorium closed in 1970 (although Gould was allowed to continue using it for the next 11 years) and was fully restored and reopened as the Carlu in 2003.