Tanglewood 2017

Guide to Tanglewood, The Boston Symphony Orchestra's Summer Home in Lenox, MA

Tanglewood Ozawa Hall
••• Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood is where some of the most intimate, memorable concerts are staged. Education Images/UIG / Getty Images

Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and the setting for a wide variety of musical performances each year. There's no better place in all of New England to spread out a picnic blanket, feast on gourmet goodies and listen to live music as the sun sets and the stars unveil themselves. 2017 marks its 80th season.

Highlights of the 2017 Summer Season

  • Joan Baez, Indigo Girls, and Mary Chapin Carpenter kick off the Tanglewood summer season. (June 17)
  • The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra with conductor Keith Lockhart will perform the Jaws score live to accompany a screening of the legendary shark flick (June 18) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with the lovable alien on-screen. (August 25)
  • James Taylor returns to his beloved Tanglewood once again on the 3rd and 4th of July. The Independence Day concert will be followed by fireworks. (July 3 and 4) Other popular artists who will take the Tanglewood stage in 2017 include: Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald (June 30), John Mellencamp   with Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter (July 1), Natalie Merchant (July 2), David Sedaris (August 20), Diana Ross (August 30) and the Avett Brothers (September 1).
  • The Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tanglewood season officially opens with Music Director Andris Nelsons conducting Mahler's Symphony No. 2 Resurrection. (July 7) Nelsons, in an expansion of his commitment to Tanglewood, will conduct 10 programs over the course of four weeks including the BSO's traditional closing performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. (August 27)
  • For the first time, the BSO under the direction of Nelsons will present a full-length concert performance of Wagner's Das Rheingold(July 15)
  • Tanglewood Takes Flight: A Celebration of Birds and Music is a new collaboration with Mass Audubon combining bird walks at Tanglewood and Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary with performances by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard of selections from Messiaen's Catalogue of the Birds. (July 27-30)
  • Tanglewood on Parade will feature a full day of activities, culminating in a gala concert with Charles Dutoit, Moritz Gnann, Keith Lockhart, Bramwell Tovey and John Williams conducting. The combined forces of the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood Music Center orchestras will present works including the traditional performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture featuring fireworks. (August 1)
  • The BSO with Christoph von Dohnányi conducting will play a program featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma (August 6). Ma will also join pianist Emanuel Ax and other artists for two of six intimate concerts in the Schubert's Summer Journey series. (August 3 and August 17).
  • Hans Graf will lead a staged production of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream in a recent adaptation by director Bill Barclay (August 5).
  • Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams, one of the best-known composers of his generation with credits that include some of the 20th and 21st centuries' most memorable film scores, will be joined by Nelsons for the always popular Film Night at Tanglewood. (August 19) Williams fans will also want to attend the world premiere of his new work, Markings, for solo violin, strings, and harp. (July 16)
  • Grammy Award-winning artist Melissa Etheridge performs with the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart. (September 3)

Check the complete Tanglewood 2017 schedule for other fabulous performances, then purchase your tickets, compare rates at nearby hotels, pack your picnic, and head for Tanglewood.

Tanglewood History

Tanglewood, located in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, had its beginnings in 1936 when the BSO gave its first outdoor concerts in the area, a three-concert series held under a tent for a total crowd of 15,000.

In 1937, the BSO returned to the Berkshires for an all-Beethoven program, but this time at Tanglewood, the 210-acre estate donated by the Tappan family, initiating a new era in the history of the American summer music festival. In 1938, the 5,100-seat Shed was inaugurated, giving the BSO a permanent, open-air structure in which to perform at Tanglewood.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has performed in the Koussevitzky Music Shed every summer since, except for the war years 1942-45, and Tanglewood has become a place of pilgrimage for millions of concertgoers.

The 1986 acquisition of the Highwood estate next to Tanglewood increased the festival's public grounds by 40 percent and allowed for the construction of Seiji Ozawa Hall, which opened in 1994 along with the Leonard Bernstein Campus, which became the center for most Tanglewood Music Center activities. Ozawa Hall serves not only as a performance home for the Tanglewood Music Center but as a modern venue for the BSO's varied recital and chamber music offerings.

Tanglewood annually attracts more than 300,000 visitors for orchestral and chamber music concerts, instrumental and vocal recitals, student performances and the annual Festival of Contemporary Music, as well as performances by popular and jazz artists. The season offers not only a vast quantity of music​ but also a vast range of musical forms and styles, all of it presented with a regard for artistic excellence that makes the festival unique. 

In 2012, Tanglewood celebrated its 75th anniversary, and the season began with the same program that launched the venue on August 5, 1937: an all-Beethoven program.

BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will lead 10 Tanglewood programs during the summer of 2017, his third season.