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Concert hall of the Philharmonie in Berlin - Concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle
Philharmonie: Concert hall © visitBerlin, Foto: Pierre Adenis

Philharmonie Berlin

The musical heart of Berlin

The best sound in the city! Enjoy a truly memorably concert with the legendary Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra in Berlin’s landmark Philharmonie hall.

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Berlin’s Philharmonie hall is home to the legendary Berliner Philharmoniker, long ranked among the very best orchestras in the world. Those standards of excellence are also matched by the Philharmonie itself. Designed by architect Hans Scharoun, not only has the concert hall’s appearance become world renowned, but also its interior – with an innovative design providing the best possible acoustics.

It all began with a bang

Bang! A pistol shot rang out in the Philharmonie hall. Was it a scene in an action movie – or an outraged musician shooting the tyrannical conductor? Far from it. Shortly before the new concert hall opened in 1963, experts used pistol shots to test the acoustics – and that’s how the world-renowned Philharmonie came to have its perfect sound.

A different musical arrangement

In contrast to the standard concert hall, the Philharmonie places the orchestra on a central concert platform surrounded by the audience. You can even take a seat behind the orchestra – popular with concert-goers who prefer to see the conductor’s face.  With its tent-shaped ceiling, sloping walls and seating for 2,440 arranged in blocks as terraces, the Philharmonie offers outstanding acoustics wherever you sit. The design of the Chamber Music Hall (Kammermusiksaal), the Philharmonie’s companion concert hall, also follows the same principles.

A history of excellence

Under the current principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle, the orchestra has developed a characteristically full yet transparent sound. But each of the great conductors to lead the Berliner Philharmoniker, including such names as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, Sergiu Celibidache and Claudio Abbado, have left their mark on this remarkable orchestra.

The Berliner Philharmoniker also have another unusual feature – the 128 musicians jointly elect their principal conductor in a secret vote. At present, the new conductor designate is Kirill Petrenko, elected in 2015 to take over from Sir Simon Rattle in a change-over presently scheduled for 2018.

The orchestra are also noted for their more relaxed moments – which include allowing legendary German comedian Loriot to conduct while attempting to catch a fly.

And in that same spirit of fusing music and fun, the Berliner Philharmoniker traditionally mark the end of their season by leaving their hallowed hall and heading for the open-air venue of the Waldbühne. The concert there has a very special atmosphere, and, by popular demand, always ends with the old Berlin operetta tune Das ist die Berliner Luft (That’s the Berlin air), accompanied by the audience clapping enthusiastically!

Architecture

Even from outside, the shimmering gold Philharmonie is an exceptional sight. Architect Hans Scharoun, an advocate of organic modernism, built the concert hall from the inside out –a design that proved highly controversial. In particular, when the Philharmonie was opened in 1963, the tent-like roof was pilloried and the concert hall nicknamed the “Circus Karajani” after then principal conductor Herbert von Karajan.

The Philharmonie belongs to an architectural ensemble known as the Kulturforum (Cultural Forum) near Potsdamer Platz. The ensemble comprises:

A special taste of lunchtime music

Every Tuesday at 1 pm, the popular free lunchtime concert series presents a superb programme of chamber music lasting around 45 minutes. Here, the top-flight musicians play for free, only asking visitors for a donation to the UNICEF Children’s Fund. Food is also on offer – and though not free, it is very reasonable priced!

The Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall

Let the orchestra play for you in your own home! The Digital Concert Hall presents a wide selection of Berliner Philharmoniker concerts online, both through their archive and live broadcasts.  The Digital Concert Hall is a pay service, but one concert recording is available without any obligation.

Parking at the Philharmonie

At present, the Philharmonie is a building site. Parking is available at the nearby car parks at the Sony Center and Potsdamer Platz Arcades (standard charges apply).

Information for school classes

The Berlin Philharmoniker run an extensive education programme for young musicians and all music lovers. The multifaceted programme aims to reach people of all ages, social and cultural backgrounds and talents.  There are also projects and events specifically designed for school classes. 

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