Paine Hall Opens After Renovations

Harvard’s Music Department celebrated the recent renovation of Paine Hall Friday with a performance by a string quartet of a piece composed by John Knowles Paine, Harvard’s first music professor and the namesake of the music building.

The concert—given by the Portland String Quartet—followed two short talks on the history of music at Harvard.

Daniel D. Sedgwick '03, a teaching fellow for Music 150, said he was impressed by both the concert and the renovations.

“[A string quartet] is a marriage of four people, and it's really hard to make that work,” he said.

As a member of the music department, Sedgwick said that he appreciated the renovations, especially the restoration of two grand pianos and the changes made to practice space in the basement.


“Sound proofing the practice rooms was a big improvement,” he said.

The Portland String Quartet played a string quartet written by Walter H. Piston '24, a longtime Harvard professor, as well as Paine's String Quartet in D major.

The group debuted Paine's string quartet—composed in 1855 when Paine was just 16—for the first time last fall, but Friday's concert was the first performance of Paine's piece in his namesake hall.

“To play [Piston's] work here at Harvard, and Paine's work from another century was a very special feeling,” said Ronald Lantz, a violonist in the quartet.

Robert E. Olson Jr. '70, the chief architetct of Paine Hall’s renovation, said that the primary goal of the renovation was to improve the building’s overall utility while keeping the historic performance hall intact.

“The hall has its own unique acoustic, and our role was not to try and change it,” Olson said.

Lantz appreciated the acoustics in the hall, which were not altered during the renovation.

“It has a resonance that is really fun to play in,” Lantz said.

Paine Hall, which was constructed as Harvard's first music building in 1914, reopened this semester after more than a year of renovations, including improved sound proofing for basement practice rooms and better heating and cooling.

—Staff Writer Jared T. Lucky can be reached at


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