SFMA History: 1950's

The 1950's saw the building of several new performance venues in both Broward and Dade Counties.

Local 655 Miami OfficeThe War Memorial Auditorium opened in Fort Lauderdale in 1950 at a cost of $500,000. It was originally built to provide a permanent home to the Fort Lauderdale Symphony and the Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale, but over the years it was also hosted politicians, pageants, and rock stars such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. Dade County Auditorium, in Miami, debuted in 1951 with a production of Carmen by Florida Grand Opera. DCA was host to the American debut of Luciano Pavarotti and has also hosted Presidents of the United States. This decade also saw oil-well millionaire George Engle transform a 30-year-old movie house into the Coconut Grove Playhouse, which opened in 1956 with the United States debut of Waiting for Godot. And finally, the old Local 655 office building in Miami was built in 1958, and was home to the Local until it was sold in 1993.

The 1950's gave birth to a few local organizations. WPBT, Florida's first non-commercial television station, began broadcasting in 1955. The Boca Raton Municipal Band, which eventually grew into the Boca Pops, was founded in 1951.

The Miami Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1956, with Fabien Sevitzky as its first music director. Sevitzky was a nephew of conductor Serge Koussevitzky and had previously served as conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony. After Sevitzky's sudden death in 1967, Alain Lombard was appointed music director.


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