Just in: Berlin adapts Philharmonie to chessboard seating

Just in: Berlin adapts Philharmonie to chessboard seating


norman lebrecht

September 18, 2020

The Berlin Phil have adjusted their season to the new normal.

In line with the new hygiene concept introduced by the Berlin Senate in September, from 1 November the audience will be seated in a “chessboard pattern” with a maximum of 1000 occupied seats in the main auditorium of the Philharmonie Berlin and 567 seats in the Chamber Music Hall of the Philharmonie Berlin. It will be mandatory to wear a mouth and nose covering during the whole concert. The hygiene rules also stipulate that concerts in the Philharmonie will continue to be played without an interval and last a maximum of 90 minutes.



  • Henry williams says:

    I would never wear a mask in a concert . They are uncomfortable and it is hard to breathe If one has asthma.
    Also they have an odour

    • Tom Hase says:

      If one has asthma, then one should not attend a concert anyway. Damn coughers…

    • Simon A B says:

      A ventilator is even more uncomfortable, Mr.Self-absorbed…

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps you could consider a breath mint

    • Gustavo says:

      The odour of foul breath.

    • P. Bajewski says:

      What a huge loss for classical music….. certainly, your personal comfort means everything when measured against public safety. You’ll be sorely missed.

    • It’s a bit of a non-issue. If the mask is making it “hard to breathe” you must be so impaired already that you’re not going to concerts anyway.

      “Should people with asthma wear masks?”


      “Many people with asthma have questioned if it is safe for them to wear a mask. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there is no evidence that wearing a face mask can worsen your asthma.”

    • Skippy says:

      Great. Then please don’t go. Thanks.

    • Do the Right Thing says:

      It looks like you won’t be attending any concerts for a while, then. That’s your loss …

    • J says:

      I have asthma and, along with the majority of asthmatic people, I have no trouble wearing a mask.

      Asking the audience to wear masks seems like a very sensible hygiene precaution to me.

    • Suzanne says:

      I hate to tell you, but the odour – or lack thereof – is directly related to your breath.

    • Colorado Guest says:

      No mask, no ticket. Enjoy your music at home.

    • Emil says:

      I wore one to hear Christian Tetzlaff on Wednesday (the hall provided masks). I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, it’s unsettling, but you get used to it. And the music was out of this world (That Bach 2nd Partita!). And, it also got rid of the usual coughers.

    • MacroV says:

      Well, they’re kind of a necessary evil these days. I guess you won’t be attending.

    • John Andrew says:

      I hope you don’t go to a concert then

    • Not performing because of COVID-19 says:

      Ah, discomfort and “odour”… how about the
      discomfort/odour that someone struggling to breathe feels, as they lay prone in an ICU?
      Or in a medically induced coma on a ventilator?
      Ask some of the “lucky” survivors in Bergamo how their health is now… how much residual pain they are dealing with? Are they “uncomfortable”??
      Uncomfortable?? Please stay away from ALL of the rest of us, sensible citizens trying to survive this plague. Your selfishness makes US uncomfortable!!

    • david hilton says:

      Too bad. There are more important things than your comfort.

    • CJ says:

      Of course, it is much more comfortable to be in hospital with Covid and intubated!
      If it were impossible to breathe with a mask, how would doctors and nurses manage all day long with a mask, to try and save their patients, some of which have been infected by people who “would never wear a mask”.
      Moreover, people with asthma are at risk and should particularly wear a mask.
      If we want the public to go back to concerts, everyone has to wear a mask, otherwise many people will be afraid to attend, and rightly so.

    • Dotmeister says:

      Your loss – you’ll probably only be able to attend open air concerts then.

    • Maestro1954 says:

      You’re a selfish idiot.

    • Mike Ross says:

      Think this through… You have asthma which makes you more susceptible to COVID-19. Not wearing a mask will greatly increase your possibility of contracting COVID-19. You shouldn’t even be at a concert, as sad as that is in your condition.
      As far as the odor, wash your mask once in a while.

    • Doc Martin says:

      Bad idea, Sars-cov-2 causes severe pulmonary disease, there is also evidence of mycocarditis. Read this BMJ editorial and think again.


      (Doc Martin is a retired GP, amateur composer and Irish harpist, based in Belfast).

    • Jane says:

      If one is an asthmatic one should not be attending concerts etc at all during a cov-19 pandemic! Common sense should tell you that. Doc Martin’s advice is sensible.

    • Doc Martin says:

      Seroprevalence for Sars-cov-2 is low as the React-2 study suggests, at best 11% in Spain, 6% UK, cannot be much bigger in Germany, so you would end up with an appointment with Charon if you attended without a mask, you would also be breaking the law. I hope you have a spare penny for the ferryman just in case mate.

  • Ken says:

    This makes me weep copiously. Spent hundreds of miraculous hours there. Not my favorite hall by a long shot, but even so… The pleasure of leaving US and going to a city where they still care and are reverentially quiet and concentrated and the orchestra is scintillating and overtestosteroned….

  • Pavé Mosaïque says:

    Does that mean they’re increasing capacity?

  • sam says:

    “chessboard setting”

    I hope it’s not whites on one side and blacks on the other.

  • Fernandel says:

    Laughable cowardness.

  • Karl says:

    In Sweden they are having concerts without masks. Why aren’t they all dead?


  • Karl says:

    They are having concerts in Sweden with no masks. And they are not dropping like flies either.

    “Meanwhile, In Sweden, the Royals Attended a Concert Without Masks
    Though the country was hard hit during the pandemic, orchestras can play to audiences under 49, which is precisely what the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic did.”

    • Jane says:

      Sweden is not a popular tourist destination as it is woefully expensive, hence its viral load will be lower. However if you look at the excess deaths it has not been good.

    • Geezer says:

      They are not real “Royals”! Wise up. UK has the real Royals.

    • P. Bajewski says:

      Did you actually read the article? It says to the audience of 49 as in number, not under 49 as in age. If you think it’s a better business practice to employ entire orchestra to play for 49 people as opposed to several hundreds in chessboard sitting, well, maybe you need to study math a bit.

  • Doc Martin says:

    The only time I ever wore a mask, (an original 18th century Venetian) at a concert, was attending a marvellous party at Luggala in 1969.

    The first part, The Chieftains played their second album. The second part was Handel’s Fireworks music, with an amazing firework display which illuminated the Wicklow mountains how they managed to round up 24 oboes, 12 horns, 12 trumpets and 9 kettledrums, (including a Lambeg drum).

    Watch this RTE documentary of the last days at Luggala.


  • Pavé Mosaïque says:

    This thread has really brought out the terror-spreaders. Have a look at the statistics before talking incessantly about respirators, mass death and the like.