• National Theatre in Munich
    National Theatre in Munich ©Bayerische Staatsoper (Wilfried Hösl)

Classical settings: concert halls and opera houses

Classical music is an experience for all the senses. The appeal of concert halls and opera houses lies not only in the stage and the auditorium but in the exterior, the acoustics, the atmosphere and the charm. Both the music and the architecture blend the traditional and the modern in a number of different ways.

Gewandhaus, Leipzig

In 1781 a Leipzig concert society moved into an old trading house of the city's textile merchants. It has been known ever since as the Gewandhaus Orchestra. The present-day Gewandhaus at Augustusplatz, the third building to bear this name, boasts Europe's biggest ceiling fresco. It was opened in 1981 after a campaign by conductor Kurt Masur and became a focal point for the peaceful demonstrations by Leipzig citizens in 1989.

Philharmonie, Cologne

It's fruitless searching for the Kölner Philharmonie silhouette on the skyline because this concert hall, which opened in 1986, is hidden beneath Heinrich-Böll-Platz, between the pedestrianised square and the Stadtbahn railway. It is home to two orchestras – the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Cologne WDR Symphony Orchestra – and artists in residence have included international musicians such as Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic.

Alte Oper, Frankfurt

The neo-Renaissance Alte Oper building was inaugurated in 1880 in the presence of the Kaiser. It witnessed the premieres of works by Hindemith, Orff and Schoenberg but was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War and reopened only in 1981. Alte Oper Frankfurt is now no longer an opera house but a versatile concert and events centre. The main auditorium is panelled in mahogany and has 2,500 seats.

Philharmonie, Berlin

In 1963 the Berlin Philharmonic was given a new home near the Tiergarten after the destruction of the original building during the Second World War. Designed by architect Hans Scharoun and resembling a huge, asymmetric marquee, the new Philharmonie was affectionately known as Karajan's Circus. It became an emblem of West Berlin and is now part of the Berlin Kulturforum.

Liederhalle cultural and congress centre, Stuttgart

The name Liederhalle is a legacy of the 19th century concert hall that was destroyed in the Second World War. Stuttgart's new Liederhalle, a notable post-war cultural building that is now heritage-listed, opened on the same site in 1956. Following expansion in 1991, the Liederhalle cultural and congress centre now includes five large auditoriums and 18 smaller venues.

Nikolaisaal, Potsdam

The Nikolaisaal in Potsdam was inaugurated as the community hall for the Church of St. Nicholas in 1909. After suffering extensive damage at the end of war in 1945, it also served as a concert hall and broadcasting studio. The Nikolaisaal then underwent a renovation programme and redesign as a concert hall and events centre, reopening finally in 2000. It is the home to various musical organisations including the Brandenburg State Orchestra and the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg.


Opened in 1963, the Meistersingerhalle in Luitpoldhain park was a new cultural and congress centre built after the destruction of many Nuremberg concert halls in the Second World War. Today it hosts performances by Nuremberg choirs and orchestras, as well as rock and jazz concerts, congresses and party conferences. The Meistersingerhalle's architectural highlights include huge glazed foyers and a copper wall relief measuring almost 300 square metres.

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