Scharoun's "Zirkus Karajani" for the Berlin Philharmonic
An organic building as the new home of the Berlin Philharmonic – back in the 1950s it caused a great stir, but today the Philharmonie in Berlin is undisputedly one of the city's signature attractions. The old Philharmonie building was destroyed during the Second World War and the acclaimed orchestra moved to a number of temporary homes in the subsequent years.
With the new Philharmonie building completed in 1963, the architect Hans Scharoun succeeded in creating a new type of concert hall. Instead of the traditional positioning with the musicians performing at the front, Scharoun placed the orchestra in the centre of the hall. The democratic layout of the staggered seating ensures the views are excellent wherever you sit and the central position of the stage offers more unusual perspectives of the musicians. The folded, slanting walls and tent-like ceiling add to the exceptional acoustics, as do the pyramid-shaped speakers on the ceiling.
The 'organic' construction of the building from the inside out has resulted in a tent-like shape. Locally, the unusual concert hall quickly became known as the "Zirkus Karajani" (Karajan's Circus) – making reference to the shape of the building and the conductor at the time, Herbert von Karajan.
Founded in 1882, the Berlin Philharmonic is one of the world's most sought-after orchestras. In addition to Herbert von Karajan, a number of other conductors including Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Sergiu Celibidache and Claudio Abbado have helped shape the development of the orchestra with its 128 musicians. The British conductor Sir Simon Rattle currently holds the artistic reins. With its free lunchtime concerts and 'Zukunft@BPhil' educational project, the traditional ensemble is reaching a wide audience in a number of different ways.
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