Fire alarm at Vienna Konzerthaus prompts rapid evacuation

Fire alarm at Vienna Konzerthaus prompts rapid evacuation


norman lebrecht

July 03, 2017

Saturday’s night’s Great Sounds of Italian Cinema at Vienna’s Konzerthaus was disrupted by a fire alarm.

The sold-out house – including 95 players of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and a 60 singers in the Neue Wiener Stimmen chorus – was cleared within a commendable four minutes.

The fire was traced to the roof and extinguished. The concert resumed after a 30-minute break, according to our source in the orchestra.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Fortunately the Konzerthaus is on ground floor level. One wonders whether the Alp Phil in Hamburg would be fire proof, thinking of the recent London disaster.

    • Quatermass says:

      Nope, it’s a proverbial death trap and tinder box, as a fire safety consultant I carried out a detailed survey of the Elb phil and made a number of recommendations to the architect before it was constructed which they ignored. It does not have the inflammable cladding which the London Tower blocks have, however its design has in build flaws, not to mention acoustic ones! Another example of modern architects not understanding basic fire safety.

      • Sue says:

        It’s strange that you should write that; I watched the opening concert of the new venue just recently via U-Tube and saw the people conveyed on a hugely long ‘rolltreppe’ which was surrounded by timber walls. My husband and I observed that it was probably a huge potential fire threat as there seemed to be no escape areas on or near that rolltreppe.

        • Quatermass says:

          To put it in a UK context, prior to 2015 before the Conservatives brought in their daft red tape scheme, it took at least 6 hrs to carry out a full fire safety inspection. After they implemented the red tape initiative scheme, fire safety inspections were reduced down to 45 mins! Complete madness. The Elb at least has a river to jump into, as long as they have sufficient life vests provided, that is assuming you manage to exit it in one piece. I would not have built it there.

  • John Borstlap says:

    My fly on the wall in Vienna tells me that the possibility of the auditorium being emptied within a couple of minutes was a priority requirement for the Konzerthaus’ design, referring to the chance that a work by Schönberg would be performed.

    • Kelvin says:

      If they did Schoenberg no one would be attending.

    • Frederick West says:

      Oh grow up, infantile sarcastic idiot.

      • Sue says:

        He was trying to be funny; I found it amusing. And, John, the Konzerthaus is on the first floor – the ground and first floor separated by huge expanses of wooden flooring.

        • Percy French says:

          If any managed to exit the Elb alive they just have to jump into the rushing Elbe and end up in the Nord See ! Not a great location either way. Schoneberg if programmed would indeed ensure an empty hall as no one would buy tickets. Folk today want a tune, which Bortslap et al are unable to give them! Academics make lousy creative artists, he would not know a slip jig from a hornpipe.

          • John Borstlap says:

            It is wholeheartedly to be recommended to know something about something, before commenting something on something.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Sorry about that – it’s true, strictly speaking the hall is on the 1st floor. I never notice because I always come-in through the window.

      • Farmer Giles says:

        Bortslap odd name, sounds like something coming out of the wrong end of a cow, Borts–lap. Schoenberg would not attract audiences so if they played any no one would turn up,