The Elbphilharmonie goes fresh-air and free

The Elbphilharmonie goes fresh-air and free


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2017

Smart move:

Hamburg, 11 August 2017: To mark the end of the Hamburg summer holidays, for one week only the Elbphilharmonie is screening live broadcasts from the Grand Hall on its forecourt on the banks of the River Elbe, offering free public screenings of five concerts. From Sunday to Thursday, 27–31 August, live performances by four international orchestras will be broadcast, bringing the three-week »Elbphilharmonie Summer« series to a close. The concerts feature the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yu Long and with star violinist Maxim Vengerov, the Baltic Sea Philharmonic under Kristjan Järvi, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester under Ingo Metzmacher and the Ensemble Anima Eterna Brugge. On 1 September, the »Opening Night« with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, its chief conductor Thomas Hengelbrock and the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer also takes place in the open air.



  • Martin says:

    I just wish someone could tell me how to get tickets for single events. The website is good but everything is sold out immediately unless you have some sort of subscription package it seems. Any tips anyone?

    • You should go to the Abendkasse. There will almost always be some Restkarten there. Moreover, you will probably see someone reselling their tickets at the lobby, because their friends or partners can’t not come due to sudden illness or other incidents. You had better prepare an A4 paper, where you print “SUCHE KARTE” with a big and iconic font.

      All in all, where there’s a will there’s a way.

      • Hilary says:

        Thanks for this Invaluable insider tip. I will book a flight to Hamburg on strength of it.

        • I know it is always unpleasant to book a concert trip without having the tickets in your hand in advance. But you should not worry too much. According to my personal experiences in all those major concert halls on different continents across the globe, I can assure you one thing: the chance that you have to get on your return flight without glimpsing the interior of the Elbphilharmonie is extremely low.

          If you are traveling with your loved ones and want nothing but connected seats, then it would of course be much harder. In this case, you have to count on the remaining tickets at the Abendkasse.

          Otherwise, if you are just fine with separated seats, then you will almost always have a happy evening. Most importantly, be clever, stay alert and get prepared. Judging from my own observations, most of the people are just too lazy to use their brains. They only wait nearby the ticket counter, use crappy paper with from-the-far-hardly-recognizable handwritten monochrome fonts as their want-ticket signs. If you have an eye-catching “SUCHE KARTE” sign, you already win at the starting line.

          Furthermore, you should first study the location and work out your own strategy. Where are the entrances? How do the flows of visitors look like? Where are the earliest convergence points of these flows? Depending on your target seat categories, your potential sellers may either come with public transportation, drive their own cars and park in the underground garage, or just walk from the nearby five-star hotels. Consequently, they all take different routes and maybe even use different entrances. Anyway, the last thing you should do is just staying at a silly place where most of your contenders are also waiting. You should get earlier access to your potential sellers than these people, who, as I said before, are often too lazy to use their brains. Local people tend to prefer selling tickets to the locals, so it is even more important for you to get strategic early access.

          In addition, different classes of people will have different arrival time. For example, music lovers would probably be there as soon as the hall is open, because they want to sell their spare tickets as early as possible in order not to miss the pre-concert talk. Meanwhile, wealthy patrons are still drinking champagne with their business partners in the lounge. They don’t really care whether they will find a buyer of the 300+ EUR tickets in their hands. In fact, they are willing to give them out for free, but just don’t have the time to do so. Their time is too precious.

          In the unlikely case of not getting any tickets at all, don’t get frustrated. You still have a good chance to save the night. Ask the staffs when the intermission will start, in case there are some world-premiere pieces on the program which prevent you from calculating this decisive parameter with great confidence by yourself. Then find a lovely seaside restaurant nearby and have a relaxed dinner. Go back to the Elbphilharmonie when the intermission begins. Wait for people taking their bags and coats from the cloakroom. Politely ask them if you may have their tickets. In most of the cases, they will just give you the tickets. Remember, there are over 2000 seats in the concert hall. It is impossible that everybody will finish the whole program. Some may suddenly feel uncomfortable, others may be too busy. There are even people who are just too cool to hear the whole concert. Herbert von Karajan was one of them. Once he drove an hour or so in Switzerland to attend a concert conducted by Riccardo Chailly. He drove back home after the first half, not because he didn’t like the concert. He just planned to do so.

          At last, let’s talk about the online booking system. Yes, it looks like crazy that every concert will get sold out as soon as the sales start. However, if you go back and check it from time to time, you will occasionally see small quantity of tickets made available again. No concerts are actually sold out. There are tickets reserved for internal staffs, media representatives, sponsors, politicians etc. Once it is confirmed that Ms. X and Mr. Y can not make it, their tickets will be made accessible to the public again. But these tickets will find their buyers extremely quickly, so if you don’t check diligently enough, you may have the impression that it is always sold out.

          There is one thing I am not sure though: ticket hotline or internet booking system, which one has priority access to these kind of remaining tickets? What about ticket agents and the official box office, are they really sharing the same ticket pool. I think it really depends on the actual implementation of their ticket system. Maybe some true insiders can share their experiences here.

          Good luck and have a memorable trip in Hamburg!

          • Jaybuyer says:

            Is ‘Analeck’ a naughty wink at the notorious Götz quotation?
            Anyway, I have been trying to get a ticket for the Elbphilharmonie for over a year. A couple of months ago they offered a kind of lottery (as some opera houses do) for the coming season. I put my name down (without much hope) for 3 concerts and to my amazement I recently received 3 emails, two of which informed me that I had unfortunately been unsuccessful and one which offered me a ticket for 69€. All I had to do was pay online or not reply, in which case the ticket would be offered to someone else. A happy customer!

          • Jaybuyer says:

            Mm…tongue in cheek, methinks, or much lower down, if your pseudonym is anything to go by. Your FB page gives your place of residence as ‘Fuc*ing, Austria’! Whee!

          • Would you like to join the Kram-Hammerbauer Fan Club? We are going to have our first meetup in Fucking, an idyllic small town in Upper Austria.

        • It should be noted that although I normally only attend the best concerts of the best, I never tried to get tickets for one of those super stars our there, like Jonas Kaufmann, Lang Lang and Anne-Sophie Mutter etc. If your plan is to attend such kind of concerts, what I shared before could be completely useless. In this case, you may have to be stinking rich or know someone in charge in order to get entrance.

  • Anon says:

    Probably acoustics will be better outside than they are inside.

    • Alexander Radziewski says:

      Depends where you have your seat. On stage it’s very good in my point of view and I didn’t hear complaints asl long as you dont sit on front of the organ orright behind the french horns.

      • John Borstlap says:

        My PA has an aunt who attended a concert there with Saint-Saens’ organ symphony and had the bad luck to get a seat just in front of the organ, and her hairdo has never been the same again.

    • John says:

      Probably? So you don’t know, do you. Unnecessary snark noted.

  • Jaybuyer says:

    My comment might appear….one day!