Who said the Germans are efficient?

Who said the Germans are efficient?


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2020

Hannover’s NDR has cancelled guest artists and conductors for the next few weeks because building work has not yet finished on the concert hall.

The renovated performance space was due to have reopened with a Martha Argerich recital this Friday, but she has been moved to an alternative venue. Other artists have been cancelled in the coming weeks. Not all of them are delighted with the late disruption to their tour diaries.

Hannover says it’s due to the late installation of a pollution control mechanism, but it’s always something.

Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie was years late and seven times over budget. Bonn has missed the Beethoven year with its hall refurbishment. Mariss Jansons died before Munich broke ground on the hall it promised him.

Face it, the Germans are not very good at building concert halls.


  • Esther Cavett says:

    That’s a reversal – somebody cancelling on MA !

  • Mike SChachter says:

    Or airports.

    • Matt D says:

      Yes, I heard great things about Munich, so I started using it instead of Frankfurt. No problems with Munich as start or end point, but with connections it can be more of a hassle than it needs to be.

      I remember in ‘17 deplaning from Prague on the tarmac, taking a bus to near Terminal 2 Satellite, only to be shuffled onto a bigger bus to Terminal 2, then taking train back to Terminal 2 Satellite. My plane ended up being less than 50 meters from the point where I first switched buses! Still better than Frankfurt, the physically longest terminal I have ever seen. One endless corridor!

      The other thing that baffles me about air travel in Germany is the method of boarding everybody at once rather than breaking it up. One line of 250-300 people waiting to board!

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Berlin Airport….now there is a story.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    In all the years I have been visiting Germany, I have never found that mythological German efficiency. In many respects, in spite of a less than first rate public transport system, I have found more efficiency in Australia than in Germany.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      And the trains are less punctual than in Italy.

    • Hermann the German says:

      Hello Mustafa,
      what about the efficiency in Australia in extinguishing the many fires ?

      • Nik says:

        A disgraceful comment and in very poor taste. Some people could really benefit from a moment’s reflection before clicking ‘submit’.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        With 168 arsonists under arrest I wonder why this could be? Any link between leniency, recidivism, fire and death? Of course not!!!!

        • V.Lind says:

          Even the rightwing rags you read point out that most of the firebugs under arrest are very young, in many cases actually children who clearly do not understand the scope of what they have done.

          And while there are some nutters out there adding to a massive misery, you are surely not denying the extreme weather conditions that have made this the worst fire season in Australian history? Have you read the temperatures they have been enduring?

          The American rightwing — so utterly reductive. And hostile to grown-up ideas, like science.

      • V.Lind says:

        That is just evil. We can’t all run concentration camps with German efficiency.

        Decent people — volunteers — are exhausted from this seemingly endless fight, and many have lost their lives. Your comment is revolting.

      • Dave T says:

        too soon

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I am tempted to draw a misleading comparison: the delays and cost overruns of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport compete with the Sydney Opera House.

      • Nik says:

        In terms of timescale perhaps, but in other ways they are very different. The Sydney Opera House was a truly groundbreaking, innovative design that gave rise to unprecedented engineering challenges and I take my hat off to everyone who supported this colossal undertaking from start to finish. The result is one of the world’s most iconic and recognisable buildings.
        Whereas BER airport is just… an airport. Nothing particularly unusual or challenging about it. It should have been a doddle to build according to plan. The delays are entirely caused by rank incompetence and corruption.

        • Sixtus says:

          But the acoustics in the concert hall in the Sydney Opera house have always been and are are still atrocious. I speak from experience.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            The size of the orchestra pit is too small for Wagnerian opera. I don’t know if this has since been remedied, or even how. Some of the seating areas have partially restricted viewing too.

            But it looks good, and that’s the main thing.

          • MacroV says:

            The Sydney Opera House is not principally an opera house. The largest hall is a concert hall, generally considered unsatisfactory and now getting another renovation. The opera theatre is too small in many ways for large operas. Sydney probably needs a real opera house, but with one of the wonders of 20th century architecture called the “Sydney Opera House,” chances of one ever getting built seem pretty slim.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      The rot set in some time ago. Those who live in Germany or are regular visitors will know what frequently happens and is hardly ever reported in the British media: infrastructure problems, tradespeople who don’t turn up on the dot, supermarkets that have to recall products, things that don’t work the way they should. The cause? The “68er Generation” are now in charge, having replaced those who helped to rebuild the country after WW2. They grew up without the same kind of discipline and work ethic that characterised the earlier generation. The Germans used to live to work; now they work to live.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        “The Germans used to live to work; now they work to live.”

        Are you sure? Didn’t Germans always have long vacations and usually retire on the early side? Maybe the resulting work-life balance is a partial explanation of their vibrant performing arts scene: they have more time attend events than, say, Americans.

        My personal observation, however, has been that when at work, Germans are focused and don’t slack off.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The real reason of German inefficiency today is that younger generations don’t like to be German, so they do things very differently from their parents and grandparents. Some people think it is the influence of the French and the Americans. Again other people think it’s the immigrants and the refugees. And other people again think it is the weather, which is too cold, too wet, too warm, too dry, to windy. My PA, who has an aunt living in Cologne, knows for sure the inefficiency is the result of Germans complaining about everything at any given opportunity, and reading Slipped Disc too much, anxious as they are about their reputation and cultural profile.

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s because of the very strict building construction rules about everything here. More restrictions every year. It’s a Mafia between architects and reviewers.

  • Alexander says:

    Hanover has hangover 😉

  • John Borstlap says:

    The reason is that Germany has drastically modernized.

  • Sarah says:

    I can just speak for the New Year’s Concert with Martha Argerich this Friday and have not done any research on the others, but this concert has simply been moved to a different venue. It has not been cancelled and the orchestra is rehearsing just now…

  • AngloGerman says:

    Fact is – they’re still far better at it than the UK…

  • Baron von Gotha-Mecklenpommern says:

    Go ahead, bash the Germans. It always goes down well. More clicks, more snide comments. Everybody is happy.

    • V.Lind says:

      So good to have a purpose in life! Beats some of your recent ones.

    • Gustavo says:

      But be especially careful when bashing the House of Hanover.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Oh, please, let them have the pleasure. From where I live (a town of 100.000 people), I have access, within 80 minutes driving distance, to eight professional opera houses with a season from September to June. Not to mention the professional philharmonic ten minutes walking distance from my place. That makes it easy to smile at any snide remarks.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Is anybody good at building concert halls?

    Don’t these one-off creations always have troubles?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall in NY, and the Wigmore Hall in London were built without trouble.

  • MacroV says:

    I’ve had some of my worst airport experiences in Germany; they’re certainly not expert at managing queues. But I’ve loved my visits to Berlin and Munich.