Bonn is going to be two years late for Beethoven

Bonn is going to be two years late for Beethoven


norman lebrecht

July 02, 2019

The ludicrous saga of Bonn’s Beethovenhalle – which I first reported on Bloomberg 14 years ago – shows no sign of reaching any kind of rational resolution.

The latest estimate is that the renovation of the inadequate 1959 hall – a political compromise – is going to cost €166.2 million. That puts it more than 100 million Euros over budget.

And – wait for it – the hall won’t be finished until 2022, two years after the Beethoven Year, marking his 250th birthday.

Whatever happened to German efficiency?

Famous last words.


  • Bob Boles says:

    I mean, who could have forecast that Beethoven’s centenary would crop up so soon? It’s not like he had any connections to Bonn, is it?

    • Mike Schachter says:

      The date was also wholly unpredictable. To read abuts a much larger scale version of this fiasco the BBC website did a long piece on the new Berlin Brandenburg airport: at least 8 years late, at least 3 times over budget. Not to mention the Hamburg saga. In reality this is all about contempt for public money, plenty more where that came from.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Berlin Airport is much more than 8 years late and 3 times over budget. That project is hilariously inept (unless you are paying for it).

  • Thomas Silverberg says:

    German efficiency is a myth. Here one finds people only interested in their positions, seldom in doing their jobs.

  • Rob says:

    Fate knocking at the concert hall’s door.

  • Caravaggio says:

    So-called German efficiency is also under question due to the VW emissions deception and the long delayed opening of the new Berlin airport which has become farce and comedy.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Oh and that airport is way over budget, too, and by some accounts poorly planned efficiency and design-wise.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Underneath the organisational and technical problems of these kind of renovations lies the problem of architectural modernism. As the well-known architect Leon Krier has pointed-out, the modernist style makes use of materials which don’t last, which crumble, which are bad for the climate and environment both in production and in use, and are hughely expensive in the upkeep. The life span of a modernist building is ca. 40 years and then it has to be demolished which is also hughely expensive and creates an immense pile of waste. Or, people want to ‘renovate’ it which is like trying to get a frankenstein monster upright again, which is thus extra expensive, and will only endure for another couple of decennia. Traditional architecture however, uses permanent materials, can easily be restored, and doesn’t weigh upon both the natural and urban environment. Modern public buildings which were built shortly after the war had to be erected quickly and hence the problematic heritage of postwar utopianism.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Hmmmmm. Just last weekend, I was walking around the campus of a small Midwestern university. I was looking at its flashy science building with the exterior curtain walls entirely of glass, and I wondered…. How long is this building going to last?

    I think you’ve answered my question.

    I remember reading an article a while back about Lincoln Center in NYC, which basically said exactly what you’ve just said: the buildings were built cheaply in the late 1950s and ’60s and are basically worn out. Renovating them will cost as much, if not more, than just tearing down and replacing.

    Still, sounds like a bad deal for Bonn. When they’re all done, 166 million Euros later, will they just have a patched together old building that’ll need the same kind of rehab in another 40-50 years??

  • Don Fatale says:

    What a pessimistic bunch! It great that it will be ready 5 years early for the commemoration of Beethoven’s death 200 years previous.