Zaha Hadid, a loss for music

Zaha Hadid, a loss for music


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2016

Shocked at the death of the architect Zaha Hadid, I cannot help thinking: what a waste.

The Iraq-born British visionary, who died today of a heart attack in Miami, aged 65, won a competition to build an opera house in Cardiff in the 1990s. The Welsh got worried and cancelled the commission.

Zaha put in to build a big, bold Beethoven hall in Bonn. Never happened.

She could have been a candidate to design London’s next concert hall.

All we have are hints and glimpses.

This, below, was Zaha’s temporary installation at Manchester Art Gallery for festival Bach performances in 2009.

zaha hadid chambermusichalltop3

And this is a corner of her Guanghzhou Opera House in 2011.


Genius. No other word for her. An irreplaceable loss to the arts.

Here’s Zaha talking life and music on Desert Island Discs.


  • Sir Peter Jonas says:

    Sad, very sad that Zaha Hadid has just died. I always loved her work and admired her unreservedly. Years ago, when I was at the Staatsoper in Munich, I engaged her to design a new production of Tippett’s “A Midsummer Marriage” with director Richard Jones….after months of planning and development she dropped out and Giles Cadle took over (brilliantly) but every moment working with her was a thrill, a revelation and her enthusiasm and charm were overwhelming. A great mercurial figure in architecture and all too soon taken from us! RIP.

  • Mark Powell says:


    2016 is just turning into a crazy bad year for the loss of human capital. I’m reminded of the genuine pain in Maurice Sendak’s voice when, in an interview, he spoke about how this kind of a loss darkens the world a bit more. In the end, it HAS to serve as a call to arms for other artists, builders, teachers, mentors, and those of us for whom humanity is the driving force of our lives.

    It’s just almost impossible to feel worthy to step forward and take up the mantle, in any field of endeavor, when the losses keep coming in waves like this.

    • Patrick says:

      I hate to say get over it, but people don’t live forever. And you seem totally unprepared to entertain the proposition that some from the younger generation may have as much talent as Ms. Hadid.

  • Christopher Culver says:

    I don’t know Zaha Hadid’s architecture (I’m just not so informed about the world of architecture), but I did know of her as the designer for Beat Furrer’s opera Begehren at Graz in 2003, a very memorable set. RIP.

  • Robert Diaz says:

    Glad the stunning Guangzhou Opera House did get built — a fabulous piece of architecture at the service of the arts.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I always hoped Mrs Hadid would build the first settlement on Mars. She would be the best to understand the environment.