Concert hall is four times over budget

Concert hall is four times over budget


norman lebrecht

November 10, 2021

The German Taxpayers Association has slammed the city of Bonn for letting costs of renovating the Beethoven Hall run from a budgeted 43 million Euros to a present estimate of 166 million. It is also three years behind schedule

Even worse is Cologne where a 230 million Euro budget for the rebuilt opera house is now estimated at 971 million, and no end in sight.

Viva Munich, where they get things right.


  • Gary Freer says:

    And Hamburg …..

    Whatever happened to German efficiency?

    Glad the London project was pulled.

    • JBViol says:

      One ride on Deutsche Bahn is enough to learn that “German Efficiency” is a thing of the past…especially in NWR!

    • Thomas says:

      Well, with that project canceled, London STILL doesn’t have a decent concert hall that befits the excellence of its orchestras.

      • Maria says:

        Better to have a very high standard of music making and interesting concerts than a hall covering up a pile of warts. London got a brand new hall in 1992, aka the Barbican, on top of what is there. You’d never get the wonderful Proms into a new hall out in the Styx. Leeds by the way has none, and Opera North do not have an opera house. Only Manchester has a concert hall and right in the city centre beside a major train station, not a tram ride away to Salford, but 60 miles from Leeds. About time, like Germany, we levelled up the other major cities, particularly in the north. It’s all far too London-centric, even living in Scotland and NI. No wonder there is always resentment.

        • Colin says:

          “…out in the Styx…”?

        • R Thornton says:

          The Barbican Hall opened in 1982.

          Perhaps one reason that Leeds doesn’t have a purpose built concert hall is that the Yorkshire Symphony orchestra was disbanded in 1955. I don’t recall hearing many demands for its reinstatement when I was growing up there.

          “Only Manchester has a concert hall and right in the city centre…” ????

          “Opera North do not have an opera house” Not purpose built, true, but Opera North’s backstage facilities have been expanded and seem very comprehensive.

          So far as “levelling up” and “resentment” are concerned, I suggest you look into the Royal Opera House’s attempts to move into Manchester, and the reasons why they failed.

      • Nicholas Ennos says:

        The Royal Albert Hall is a disgrace and holding the Proms there is a travesty

  • Andreas B. says:

    ‘Viva Munich, where they get things right’ ?

    I seem to remember, just a few months ago Munich was not very popular on SD:

    “The costs have apparently spiralled above one billion Euros”

    (there are three different concert hall projects in Munich at the moment: the newly opened Isarphilharmonie, the Gasteig renovation, and BRSO’s hall – some on time and budget, some less so…)

  • M McAlpine says:

    Let those who moan about the lack of support for Rattle’s London project take note!

  • Gus says:

    Hope they get an audience. My experience here in the UK of the concerts I have been to is that attendance has been abysmal. Not sure that it will get any better, the future looks very precarious.

    • Derek H says:

      It is gradually improving. For example, a recent CBSO Concert was close to capacity (excepting that part of the hall was socially distanced seating).

      However, I do suspect that the audiences will be more choosy. The performers, programs and performances will have to be “top drawer” for them to come back frequently.

  • Thomas says:

    At least the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg has become a worthwhile addition to the country’s concert halls. As for the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, it would be better just to tear the whole thing down and start anew.

  • Bochumer says:

    …and Bochum, of course, one of the most remarkable concert halls in the country. 18% over budget but only €10m of public funds in a total of €38m.

    An unbelievable building (and achievement).

  • Monsoon says:

    Just imagine if half of the money went into an endowment to support the organization in perpetuity…

  • Gustavo says:

    Too many project directors, project managers and team leads messing up in MS Projects, creating massive Excel spreadsheets and timelines, feeding crap info into SAP templates, with controllers constantly switching systems and losing control.

    The curse of digitisation and home-office woke-life balance.

    Careful use of pen and paper and a hand full of brains could have prevented such massive budget drift.

  • Gustavo says:


  • John Borstlap says:

    I think such projects mostly go like this: the builder offers a budget sketch which is intentionally much lower than he knows in advance, so he gets the commission because of offering the cheaper option. When the building is somewhere halfway, the builder comes with ‘unforeseen’ problems, which – alas! – have to be addressed if the building is to be finished. By that time, the builder has leverage because the options of stopping the project or breaking it down are unacceptable since already so much money has been spent. And thus, the builder can do what he wants and can continue blackmailing the commissioning party as much as he likes.