Munich does U-turn and calls for new concert hall

Munich does U-turn and calls for new concert hall


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2015

Nine months after the city council decided to spend millions on a refit of the irredeemably unsightly Gasteig (pictured), it has now responded to a campaign led by Anne-Sophie Mutter to build what the city has lacked since 1945 – a decent-sized concert hall with a world-class acoustic.



There are two favoured sites one behind the Ostbahnhof, an area presently occupied by factories, and the other west of the Hauptbahnhof, where the postal sorting office sits.

Possibly not the best choice. But it’s a start. Mariss Jansons and his radio orchestra will be delighted.

London, meanwhile, has miserably failed to publish Sir Nicholas Hytner’s report, submitted two months ago, on whether there should be a new hall in the heart of the City to replace the inadequate Barbican.

While the Bavarians have a transparent, public debate, the Brits make decisions behind closed doors. There has been no testing whatsoever of London opinion on whether a new hall should be built, and where.




  • william osborne says:

    We might remember the original source of all these problems. The Munich Philharmonic’s original hall, the Tonhalle, was completely destroyed by bombs in 1944. It was a very ornate structure in the baroque syle of Louis the 16th and contained a huge 50 register organ. It took half a century for the Munich Philharmonic to get a new hall, the Gasteig, opened in 1985. What a bitter sadness that the hall’s acoustics are so poor.

    The hall is part of the Gasteig Cultural Center when had already cost about 400 million Euros. The inside walls of the concert hall are entirely covered with white oak imported from the USA that required an unimaginable number of trees. And now 30 years after its completion another 300 million Euros is planned for the building complex’s renovation. The big concert hall contains a 74 register organ with about 6000 pipes. It’s incredible that the city is built a very expensive hall that is defective and then will build another to replace it within one generation.

    • John Nemaric says:

      Walls covered (or plated) with oak wood!!! The epitome of ignorance. Oak, in any of its versions is considered to be one of the worst (yes, worst) of all woods for acoustical purposes. Oak is definitely not a “tone” wood. Tone wood includes at its basic maple wood and spruce. These are the two woods kinds consistently used on strings instruments. I hope those that design a new hall would learn the basics of hall acoustics. What a shame…oak!!!

      • william osborne says:

        BTW, one can see all the white oak in the above photo Norman posted.

      • Holger H. says:

        Talking about ignorance, what makes you believe, wood panels on walls need to have the same acoustic properties than wood used for resonating string instruments?

      • Max Grimm says:

        I guess this also explains why some of the world’s acoustically superior concert halls are filled with oak paneling to amplify sound…

  • Furzwängler says:

    Let’s hope that Munich’s new concert hall does not turn into another disaster like the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (or the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport) : years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget.

    • Holger H. says:

      The real disaster will be Elbphilharmonie’s acoustics. More “Emperor’s New Acoustics” for clueless public builders.

  • Alvaro says:

    Unemployment, crime, corruption, income inequality, food/air quality, gentrification, transport, education, inflation, ……….

    But what we all need is a new concert hall.

    You guys have real problems…

    • Alexander Hall says:

      Man does not live by bread alone…………..

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Yes. The widespread under investment in, and savage cutting of budgets for, the arts is THE major problem tearing human society apart, with all the consequences that follow and some of which you mention. If only every single trading day at the New York Stock Exchange would begin with one hour of music making, the world might become a better place. Just one example. Another: theater performances by school kids in Kabul, Afghanistan, in spite of a suicide bomb attack during a performance two years ago. A society which abandons culture and arts is bound to descend into barbarism. See ISIS.

    • Holger H. says:

      With that attitude, man would still live in caves or even on trees. One word: spirituality (not only in the limited religious sense but anything man needs to grow and nurture the soul and the mind). It’s what makes a human human.

  • Lydia Wahlberg says:

    So much for German engineering.

  • Holger H. says:

    The biggest irony of all is that those halls we consider the exemplary best for classical music acoustically: Vienna Musikverein, Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony Hall, have all been built without ANY acoustician or acoustical consulting.