Want to live above a concert hall? That’ll be 10 million Euros…

Want to live above a concert hall? That’ll be 10 million Euros…


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2017

Luxury apartments in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie have just come onto the market.

The 400 square metre residences are priced, apparently, for sopranos and music directors.

Without fixtures and fittings.




  • John Borstlap says:

    A more appropriate symbol of the exploitation of classical music cannot be found.

    • alvaro says:

      I believe Orspn Welles or Marlon Brando used to live in the apartments above carnegie hall. Furthermore, its not the exploitation of classical music, but exactly the opposite. IT IS CLASSICAL MUSIC THAT EXPLOITS REAL ESTATE.

      Do you think is financially sound to make a building solely devoted to an artform that is in decadence and most likely will have to be re-purposed in the future? Even soccer stadiums are being conceived with multi-use facilities these days (look at Real Madrids proposed plans for the samntiago bernabeu) and last time I checked there were one or two more people interested in soccer than in classical music.

      OH, BUT I REMEMBER!! Nanny state should not care about finances and devote my taxes to make white elephants just because snobs like you demand it, right?

      • John Borstlap says:

        How does an absurd concert hall, meant to celebrate the times in which the repertoire that is mainly performed inside was definitely NOT written, exploit real estate? I don’t get it. It seems more obvious that prestige objects like the Alp Phil use classical music to give them some cultural glamour, which can then be translated into inflated prices of real estate as this post shows. In such cases, the motivation is not classical music, but urban sensationalism, and the absurdly inflated expenses of particularly THIS building were covered by tax money, entirely unnecessarily.

        If the motivation was really something like: let us build the best possible concert hall for classical music, almost all of it being a precious heritage of ages with a more developed artistic instinct and creative vision, Hamburg would have built a classically-conceived shoe box designed by Leon Krier, or the firm Quinlan & Francis Terry, and for a fraction of the price of the Alp and at a much better location. And it would then not be neccessary to build expensive lofts on top of it in an attempt to get some of the money back.



        As for ‘snobism’: you don’t seem to know what that is. This may be helpful:


        Defending the better things in art, which can be easily discerned by comparison, has nothing to do with snobism.

        For people suffering from an egalitarian world view, anything that reminds them of their inadequacy is considered ‘elitist’ or ‘snobism’. That is regrettable, because it hinders any chance of development and merely creates moods of bitterness and envy.

      • Peter Henningsen says:

        Maybe you should use your 3 braincells occasionally and realise the country we are talking here is Germany and they certainly do not need your advice regarding culture, let alone classical music.

      • Franz Lehrdorfer says:

        Unless you pay taxes in Germany what business is it of yours ? Stick to your own backyard, there will be enough to do there.

      • E.F. Mutton says:

        When the 789 Mio EUR cost to the taxpayers of this obscenely expensive concert hall and monument to the political class (a more than quadruple cost overrun) was castigated in a previous thread, the numerically illiterate crawled out of the woodwork and pooh-poohed it, saying it was peanuts compared to the enhancement of Germany’s national image as a birthplace of classical music.

        The same mathematically challenged then went on to pontificate that all concert tickets were sold out for the next couple of months, implying this as a mechanism to recoup above costs.

  • Ungeheuer says:

    The garish, extraordinarily unaffordable real estate and rental prices in the most desirable cities around the globe is not an accident but social engineering. And it will collapse. Has to. The days when practically anyone could live in a desirable metropolis if they so wished are over. These cities are now exclusive to the very well to do. Where does all this money come from? I for one cannot wait for the next economic recession (an all out economic depression would be even better) so I can get in. And so many others may too. I am not worried about those already in. Their trust funds or ill begotten gains should sustain them for some time.

  • herrera says:

    For over a century until 2007, Carnegie Hall rented affordable studio apartments atop its music hall to artistic tenants from Marlon Brando to Paddy Chayefsky to Isadora Duncan (one had to apply with a letter of recommendation), at rent-controlled prices like $650, until the landlord evicted them all to renovate the space for practice rooms and workshop spaces for students more in line with Carnegie Hall’s musical mission.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Norman, for what it’s worth, the apartments in the Elbphilharmonie have not “just come onto the market” but have been on the market for a few years now. More than half of the apartments had already been sold before the Elbphilharmonie opened its doors. At present, I believe that 39 or 40 out of the 45 apartments are off the market because they’ve been sold.
    Regarding the prices, the more than €10 mio. you quote is only for the most expensive Elbphilharmonie apartment(s). The base price for apartments started at around €3 mio. and the article you link to clearly states that the sale of a €10 mio. apartment is a new record…..not for the Elbphilharmonie but for Hamburg on the whole.

  • Hans van der Zanden says:

    In the news today:

    Schimmel in der Elbphilharmonie – Das Foyer des Kleinen Saals der Hamburger Elbphilharmonie muss wegen eines Wasserschadens aufwendig saniert werden. Heizungswasser lief aus und verbreitete sich auf etwa 300 Quadratmetern.

    Mould in the Elbphilharmonie – The entrance hall of the small hall of the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie must be redeveloped because of a water damage extravagantly. Heating water ran out and spread on about 300 square metres.

    • Sue says:

      Sounds like that other white elephant, Sydney Opera House; pit too small in opera theatre, lots of seating with partially restricted viewing and an over-1km walk in the rain (until only recently) from the nearest rail station. But it looks good on postcards, except for the incompatible residential buildings now on its doorstep.

      Mmm. Familiar?

      • Father Ted says:

        I did a fire safety survey of the Elb before it got built and advised them on how to make it safe, one thing I suggested was not sticking Condos on top of it. Hamburg fired back in 1943, looks like history might be repeated.

        At least we in Craggy Island are ok, as long as Mrs Doyle has Father Jack on automatic.

        My lovely horse was a real hit.


      • Father Ted says:

        Have heard the news in Frankfurt, they have a wee problem with a 1.4 ton WW2 bomb, the whole place is being evacuated along with $70bn gold!
        Anyone want to do a Frankfurt job?

  • NYMike says:

    For all commenters above: Besides the two concert halls in the “Elphie” and the above-mentioned condos, there’s a Westin Hotel in the building where I recently stayed. My well-appointed room had some of the same views pictured in Norman’s link. The condos’ high prices are also linked to the revitalization of the area known as HafenCity with many repurposed warehouses, made into new condos, shops and restaurants.

    The “Elphie” went 3X over budget so this along with the thousands of daily tourists may be a good way of recouping some of its costs. My NY Phil friends who played there shortly after the hall’s opening this year report that it does indeed have fine acoustics. Further, the building has become a city icon similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

    • Guido Rückel says:

      The Elbphilharmonie went more then 10 times over budget!!

      • Sue says:

        Same with EVERY single civil engineering project in Australia, with costly faults and sub-standard construction thrown into the mix. Google “Perth Childrens’ Hospital” for an afternoon’s enlightenment. (And the same contractors just got a public works job in Tasmania!!!)

      • Alexander Radziewski says:

        Guido, nobody here believed in the less than 100 million budget. The realistic price would have been around 350 million.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I never understood why the Eiffel Tower has been so popular and an identity-forging object of Paris. *) It is a mere blown-up ‘presse-papier’ without any style or character. The Alp Phil belongs, together with the Sidney opera house and the London pickle, to the same category.

      *) The only place where you can avoiding seeing it, is in its restaurant.

      • NYMike says:

        The Elbphilharmonie (having nothing to do with the Alps) – you know, the Elbe River – like it or not has become the same kind of civic symbol as the Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower and others. No matter what the cost overrun (Geffen Hall in NY won’t be redone for its $500 million, either) it will be just fine. Try getting a ticket to any one of its coming season’s concerts……

      • Father Ted says:

        The Eiffel suffers from metal fatigue it would not be allowed under EU building regs today!

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    What about a cottage somewhere in the fields?

  • MacroV says:

    You’re talking about a huge (400 square meter) apartment overlooking the Elbe in a hot part of Germany’s second-largest city. Yes, it’s going to be expensive. A similar place overlooking Central Park would cost a lot more. And the price is probably unrelated to the concert hall sitting in the same building.

  • Nick says:

    Concert Halls in future cannot be financed and sustained purely as palaces for classical music. Those days are disappearing fast. The costs are too huge and the financial returns so small as to be unjustifiable. I see absolutely nothing wrong with concert halls being part of other commercial buildings. The more real estate developers can be persuaded that this makes sense for the community and to enhance the “attractiveness” (i.e. prices and rentals) of their construction project the better as far as I am concerned.

    The Bunkamura complex in Tokyo’s Shibuya District is one such example. Opened in 1989, it has the major Tokyu Department store and a host of arts venues, including the excellent Orchard Concert Hall with 2,150 seats – home to the Tokyo Philharmonic and a host of other performances, the Theatre Cocoon with around 700 seats, 2 cinemas, an Art Museum where I once saw a stunning Renoir and Monet exhibition, three restaurants (including Les Deux Magots from Paris) and various speciality shops.

    Kuala Lumpur’s gorgeous Concert Hall is part of the Twin Tower’s complex surrounded by a huge shopping mall. Tokyo Opera City with the acoustically wonderful Takemitsu Concert Hall and the National Theater, again surrounded by shops, galleries and restaurants, is part of the skyscraper Tokyo Opera City Office Tower.

    The arts become part of daily life when its venues are in buildings in close proximity to a wide variety of other public activities and not closed off in ivory towers.

  • Wai Kit Leung says:

    Are sopranos better paid than tenors?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The higher the voice, the higher the fees.

    • Wai Kit Leung says:

      I asked because Mr. Lebrecht wrote “The 400 square metre residences are priced, apparently, for sopranos and music directors”, with no mention of tenors.

      I thought only in the adult industry do female leads get substantially higher pay than male leads …