Photo by Bill Ross
Located on the south side of Kensington Gardens in London and with a capacity of almost 6000, the world-famous Royal Albert Hall is the home of the BBC Proms this season hosting 74 concerts.
- How to get there
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP
The Royal Albert Hall was built to fulfil the vision of Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's consort) of a 'Central Hall' that would be used to promote understanding and appreciation of the Arts and Sciences and would stand at the heart of the South Kensington estate, surrounded by museums and places of learning.
The Hall is a Grade I Listed building; and has been in continuous use since it was opened in March 1871. It was always conceived as a multipurpose building to host not only concerts of music but exhibitions, public meetings, scientific conversations and award ceremonies. It is a registered charity held in trust for the nation but is financially self sufficient: it receives no funding from central or local government.
The Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings, recognisable the world over. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from every kind of performance genre have appeared on its stage.
This shared experience of the very best of live performance is now enjoyed by well over a million people each year at the Hall and by many millions more around the world through broadcasts, recordings and new media channels.
HISTORY & ARCHIVES
The list of famous performers and world figures who have appeared at the Royal Albert Hall since it opened in 1871 is unrivalled. Wagner, Verdi and Elgar conducted the first UK performance of their own works on its concert platform, Rachmaninov played his own compositions and nearly every major classical solo artist and leading orchestra has performed at the Hall.
The list of popular music artists includes Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Oscar Peterson, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Sting and Elton John and from a younger generation Jay Z, Kaiser Chiefs and the Killers.
Among leading world figures who have spoken at the Hall are Her Majesty The Queen, Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, His Holiness The Dalai Lama and former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton.
The Hall has an extensive archive of programmes, posters and other memorabilia but is always interested to hear from people who may be able to fill gaps in its records. Please let us know if you have something that you believe may be of interest by contacting the Hall's archive department on firstname.lastname@example.org.
'This Hall was erected for the advancement of the Arts and Sciences and works of industry of all nations in fulfilment of the intention of Albert Prince Consort. The site was purchased with the proceeds of the Great Exhibition of the year MDCCCLI (1851). The first stone of the Hall was laid by Her Majesty Queen Victoria on the 20th day of May MDCCCLXVII (1867) and was opened by Her Majesty the 29th day of March in the year MDCCCLXXI (1871).'
A more comprehensive version:
A great Central Hall, dedicated to the promotion of Art and Science, was a key part of Prince Albert’s vision for the South Kensington estate, which was to be developed on land purchased with the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851. From the outset the Hall was intended to be a versatile building used not only concerts but for exhibitions of art and of manufactured goods, and for scientific conferences and demonstrations. Its purpose was to enable the population at large to engage with the work of the surrounding museums and educational institutions.
Plans for the Hall fell into abeyance with Albert’s premature death and the construction of what was to called the Royal Albert Hall in his memory was due to the determination of Henry Cole, one of Albert’s collaborators in the Great Exhibition and who was later to serve as the first director of the South Kensington museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). The design and robust structure of the Hall were inspired by Coles’ visits to the ruined Roman Amphitheatres in the South of France and to his determination that the building should be placed in the hands of Royal Engineers as he distrusted architects. Detailed design of the building was started by Captain Francis Fowke and completed, following Fowke’s death, by another engineer Lieutenant Colonel (subsequently General) Henry Darracott Scott.
The original intention that the Hall should accommodate 30,000 was, for financial and practical reasons, reduced to approximately 7,000. Modern Today’s fire regulations have reduced that figure to around 5,500. Much of the money originally intended for the construction was diverted to the building of the Albert Memorial and work on the Great Hall was further delayed while Cole raised the necessary money by selling “permanent”
seats in the Hall for £100 each. The Hall was designed to connect at its South End a large glass conservatory, 265 feet long and 75 feet high, which overlooked the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society which stretched down to the Cromwell Road. The conservatory itself was flanked by two-storey brick and stone arcades, one of which connected to the underground tunnel from the newly opened metropolitan railway station at South Kensington. These arcades and the conservatory contained restaurants and other public spaces and provided the principal access (except for the wealthy who arrived by carriage) to the Hall itself.
Preliminary work on the Hall by the contractors Lucas Brothers started in April 1867 and the foundation stone was laid the following month by Queen Victoria.
The heart of the Hall is the vast internal auditorium 185 feet wide by 219 feet long covered by a glazed dome constructed of wrought iron girders which, at the time of its construction, was credited as the largest structure of its kind in the world. Other notable features included the great Henry Willis Organ also, at the time; the largest in the world although, between 1921 - 1933 it was substantially modified and enlarged by the Durham-based organ firm of Harrisons. The distinctive exterior of the Hall, inspired by the architecture of Northern Italy, was built from some 6 million red bricks and eighty thousand blocks of decorative terracotta. Surmounting the exterior walls and above the ballustraded smoking gallery, runs a continuous 800 foot long terracotta frieze composed of allegorical groups of figures engaged in a range of artistic endeavours, crafts, scientific and other cultural pursuits. Above the frieze runs the following text:
“This Hall was erected for the advancement of the Arts and Sciences and works of industry of all nations in fulfilment of the intention of Albert Prince Consort. The
site was purchased with the proceeds of the Great Exhibition of the year MDCCCLI. The first stone of the Hall was laid by Her Majesty Queen Victoria on the 20th day of May MDCCCLXVII and was opened by Her Majesty the 29th day of March in the year MDCCCLXXI. Thine O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. The wise and their works are in the hand of God. Glory be to God on high and on earth peace.”
When Queen Victoria opened the Hall she was so overcome by emotion that the Prince of Wales had to speak in her place and her only recorded comment on the Hall was that it reminded her of the British constitution. Shortage of time and money meant that, at the opening, there was little of the interior decorative detail that we see today and rush matting covered the floors.
A significant echo was immediately apparent, occasioned by the vast enclosed space and the reflection of sound from interior glass roof above. Early attempts to cure the troublesome acoustic included the suspension of a canvas velarium, or awning, below the inner dome, which had the added advantage of protecting the occupants from the sun. In 1949 the velarium was removed and the glass of the inner dome replaced by the present aluminium surfaces containing absorbent material. Of equal importance to finally eliminating the echo was the suspension from the roof of the acoustic saucers designed by Ken Shearer of the Acoustical Investigation and Research Organisation Ltd in 1968/69 which provided a much earlier reflection of sound and so reduced the reverberation time. Further improvements of the acoustics and the positioning of these saucers were undertaken as a result of detailed study during the period 1998-2003 and as part of major lottery-funded refurbishment and development of the Hall.
There have been many other modifications to the building since its opening including the replacement of the hazardous gas lighting by electricity in 1888 and significantly, the demolition in 1899 of the Grand Conservatory immediately to the South of the Hall when the Royal Horticultural Society, to whom it belonged, moved to Wisley. As a result space had to be found within the Hall for the public foyer space, lavatories, restaurants, tearooms and cloakrooms that had been previously been housed in the conservatory and the adjoining arcades. Accommodating the requirements of over 5,000 audience within a building never designed for this purpose created a major challenge.
This challenge, and need to meet the growing demands of 21st century shows and performers, prompted by far the most significant programme of interventions which was carried out between 1996 and 2004 at a cost of £69.1 million. The key to this Development Programme, which affected virtually every part of the building, was the excavation of a three and a half storey basement below the steps and gardens that lie to the South of the Hall (and which were purchased by the Hall in April 1993). This excavation now houses a major loading bay whereby scenery, sound and lighting equipment for a succession of performers can be loaded in from trucks underground and out of sight and brought up into the auditorium on lifts. The excavation also provided space for performers’ dressing rooms previously housed under the Stalls seating. This liberated two arena foyers for use by audiences. Additional bars and lavatories were created and restaurant provision expanded. New function rooms were created at Grand Tier level and administrative offices and other non-public space concentrated behind the stage and organ. With the agreement of Westminster City Council, the road which previously encircled the Hall was stopped up, enabling the construction in traditional materials of an entirely new South Porch providing a day-time entrance to the building
where, 130 years before the conservatory has once stood. Fresh air ventilation was introduced to the auditorium, partially recreating a system designed by the Victorians that had fallen into disuse and rendered inoperative by fire regulations and other changes. The Hall’s famous pipe organ was completely rebuilt and refurbished, new decorative schemes and lighting introduced in public areas and a number of investments made to support the staging and broadcast of the shows themselves.
As a Grade One Listed building every structural change had to be approved by English Heritage. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, is that this extensive programme of work was carried out whilst the Hall remained operational. It closed for just two periods of four weeks each so that seating could be replaced at Circle level and subsequently in the Stalls. Audience capacity was increased by the addition of an extra row in the Stalls.
The development of buildings such as the Royal Albert Hall is a continuing process. In 2008 one of two restaurants at Circle level was completely remodelled and in 2009 the space above the West Porch that originally housed the West Theatre, the home for many years of the Central School of Speech and Drama where, among others, Sir Laurence Olivier, Peggy Aschcoft and Dame Judi Dench trained as actors, will be converted to provide multi-use space for small-scale performance. As well as music recitals, lectures and poetry readings and opportunities for up and coming artists who could not yet aspire to the play the main auditorium, this space will also be used by children and adults participating in the Hall’s important Learning and Participation programme. Other plans currently being developed include significant investments to further improve ventilation of the auditorium, to improve the energy efficiency of the building, to upgrade bars and to extend catering and hospitality facilities both for the public and for the performers backstage.
The heart of the Hall is the vast internal auditorium 185 feet wide by 219 feet long covered by a glazed dome constructed of wrought iron girders which, at the time, was the largest structure of its kind in the world.
Other notable features include the great Henry Willis Organ also, at the time, the largest in the world and, in tribute to its power and volume, described by a contemporary as 'The Voice of Jupiter'. Between 1921 – 1933 it was substantially modified and enlarged by the Durham-based organ firm of Harrisons and it was comprehensively restored by the London firm, Manders, between 2003 – 2004.
The distinctive exterior of the Hall, inspired by the architecture of Northern Italy, was built from some 6 million red bricks and eighty thousand blocks of decorative terracotta. Surmounting the exterior walls and above the balustraded smoking gallery, runs a continuous 800 foot long terracotta frieze composed of allegorical groups of figures engaged in a range of artistic endeavours, crafts, scientific and other cultural pursuits.
The Development Project:
Between 1996 and 2004 a major refurbishment and remodelling of the Hall took place to adapt it to meet the needs of moderns shows and audiences at a cost of some £70 million.
The key to this programme was the excavation of a three and a half storey basement below the steps and gardens that lie to the South of the Hall, which houses a major loading bay so that scenery, sound and lighting equipment can be loaded in from trucks underground and out of sight and brought up into the auditorium on lifts. The excavation also accommodates plant rooms and performers' dressing rooms. New arena foyers, bars and lavatories were created and restaurant provision expanded. New function rooms were created at Grand Tier level and administrative offices and other non-public space concentrated behind the stage.
With the agreement of Westminster City Council, the road which previously encircled the Hall was stopped up at the South End and an entirely new South Porch was built to provide a day-time entrance to the building. Fresh air ventilation was introduced to the auditorium. The Hall’s famous pipe organ was completely rebuilt and refurbished, new decorative schemes and lighting were introduced in public areas and a number of investments were made to support the staging and broadcast of the shows themselves.
As a Grade I Listed building, every structural change had to be approved by English Heritage. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, this extensive programme of work was carried out whilst the Hall remained operational, closing for just two periods of four weeks when seating was replaced at Circle level and in the Stalls. Audience capacity was increased by the addition of an extra row of seats in the Stalls.
The development of buildings such as the Royal Albert Hall is a continuing process.
In 2008, one of two restaurants at Circle level was completely remodelled to create the stylish Coda restaurant and bar and a new function room was created at Grand Tier level.
In 2009, the Hall created a new state-of-the-art multi-use performance space above the West Porch. Known as the Elgar Room, this venue has already been used to host comedy, flamenco, world music, hush - the Hall's series for just signed bands, a classical coffee morning series in conjunction with the Royal College of Music, Late Night Jazz and post-show parties. It is also regularly used by children and adults participating in the Hall’s important Learning & Participation programme. This space originally housed the West Theatre which until the 1950's was the home of the Central School of Speech and Drama where, among others, Sir Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft and Dame Judi Dench trained as actors.
Other plans currently being developed include major investments to replace the Hall’s heating systems, to extend and upgrade artists' accommodation backstage, to further improve ventilation of the auditorium, to improve the energy efficiency of the building and to upgrade and to extend catering and hospitality facilities both for the public and performers.
Photo by Bill Ross 2011
The Royal Festival Hall opened in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain and is at the heart of the Southbank Centre. The RFH welcomes orchestras, operas and contemporary music from around the world. Enjoy free events, festivals and performance series. The building is also home to the Clore Ballroom, Saison Poetry Library and the Southbank Centre Shop. Eat and drink al fresco on the riverside terraces. From April - September 2011, the Southbank Centre site will be transformed for the Festival of Britain 60th Anniversary celebrations, celebrating British talent and creativity with the biggest cross-arts festival South Bank has seen since the original festival in 1951.
The Queen Elizabeth Hall is the second largest concert hall on Southbank Centre site, hosting chamber orchestras, quartets, choirs, dance performances and opera. As well as the main concert hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall also contains two smaller venues, the Purcell Room and The Front Room at the QEH.
Situated in the Queen Elizabeth Hall building, the Purcell Room is the most intimate concert hall venue on site, making it especially suitable for chamber music, literature and spoken word events, mime and solo recitals.
Queen Elizabeth Hall / Purcell Room Foyer
Monday - Thursday: 1 hour before the start of a performance. Closed when there is no performance.
Friday: 5pm - 10pm or 1 hour before the start of matinees.
Saturday & Sunday: 2pm - 10pm or 1 hour before the start of early matinees.
Photo by Bill Ross
St. John's, Smith Square - situated in the heart of Westminster - is regarded, not only as one of the masterpieces of the English Baroque, but as one of London's finest concert venues, attracting internationally renowned artists and performers.
Built a century ago as a Christian Science church, this austere building was transformed into a light and airy auditorium in 2004. It's hard to imagine how the renovations could have been bettered: the 905-capacity hall is comfortable and the acoustics excellent, providing the perfect setting for concerts by the resident Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Similar in size and scale to the long-established Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall hosts an array of talks, jazz and contemporary music, plus several of the BBC Proms concerts are held here every summer in conjunction with the Royal Albert Hall. The impressive art deco interior is also a draw, as is the charming Oakley Room bar where drinks are served at every available juncture.
The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete estate of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. The art gallery on the third floor stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The annual BITE season (Barbican International Theatre Events) continues to cherry-pick exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. The Barbican regularly attracts and nurtures experimental dance, and the Pit Theatre is a perfectly intimate space.
Built in 1901 as the display hall for the German company Bechstein Pianos, the Wigmore Hall was seized as enemy property in WWI and sold at auction for a fraction of its value. These days, boasting perfect acoustics, art nouveau decor and an excellent basement restaurant, the 'Wiggy' is one of the world's top chamber music venues and currently hosts around 400 events a year. Programming leans on the classical and Romantic periods. The Monday lunchtime recitals, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, are excellent value, as are the Sunday morning coffee concerts. Musical luminaries who have performed at the Wigmore Hall include Sergey Prokofiev, Shura Cherkassky, Paul Hindemith, Andrés Segovia, Benjamin Britten and Francis Poulenc. Tours of the auditorium, with its famous Art Nouveau mural, and other parts of the building take place during the Open House London event in September.
Welcome to Malvern Theatres
Nestling at the foot of the dramatic Malvern hills,
Malvern Theatres is a major centre for the arts in the West Midlands.
Home of the famous Malvern Festivals, founded by Bernard Shaw and Barry
Jackson in 1929, the theatre has recently celebrated the tenth
anniversary of a £7.2 million refurbishment.
Hailed both locally and nationally as a model of artistic and architectural excellence, Malvern Theatres boasts a diverse programme of drama, comedy, music and dance involving the biggest names.
It comprises three auditoria: the 800-seat Festival Theatre, famous for its programme of top touring drama and musicals; the Forum Theatre, a flexible space used for concerts and dance, as well as a 400-seat cinema.
Symphony Hall opened in 1991 to immediate public and critical acclaim.
With its world class acoustics and stunning auditorium it is considered
to be not only the UK’s finest concert hall but also one of the best in
the world. Symphony Hall presents prestigious international orchestras
and is also home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Complementing the classical programme is the best in jazz, world music,
folk, rock, pop and stand-up comedy. The Hall also plays an important
role in the life of the region and is regularly used for community
events, graduation ceremonies and conferences. In all over 370,000
people attend around 320 events at Symphony Hall every year.
Its 2262-seat auditorium is a model of modern concert hall design and its superb acoustics, engineered by Artec Consultants Inc, New York, are the benchmark by which new concert halls are measured. In 2001 the Hall was completed with the installation of the 6000-pipe Symphony Organ.
Recognised as one of the most impressive examples of Roman Revival civic architecture, the style of Town Hall is based upon the Roman Temple of Castor and Pollux.
It was designed by Joseph Aloyisus Hansom, who is better known as the creator of the famous ‘Hansom cab’. Naively agreeing to underwrite the cost of the project resulted in the bankruptcy and financial ruin of the 27-year-old.
Built in a period when Birmingham rallied at the forefront of the protests for national democratic reform, Town Hall provided citizens with a forum for political debate as well as an important symbol of their, and the town’s, purpose and aspirations. It was the meeting place for local government until the Council House opened in the 1870s, Town Hall continued as a forum for debate and speech-making through the 20th century. Since its opening, practically every prime minister and politician of note has spoken there; with notable speakers including Joseph Chamberlain, William Gladstone, David Lloyd George, Neville Chamberlain, Clement Atlee, Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher.
Town Hall was, and will be again, an internationally recognised venue for music, in particular the Triennial Music Festivals (between 1834 and 1912). Home to the CBSO between 1926 and 1991, the Hall has showcased many premieres and reverberated to every type of music from Elgar to the Rolling Stones, Mendelssohn to The Beatles and Count Basie to Black Sabbath.
It has also hosted a wide variety of events including wrestling matches, Charles Dickens’ reading of A Christmas Carol, graduation ceremonies and craft fairs! Closed in 1996 on health and safety grounds and concerns over structural stability, Town Hall has undergone numerous alterations and changes to reflect the needs of users and performers of the time; the 21st-century redevelopment was the next stage in that process.
The Bridgewater Hall
The Bridgewater Hall is Manchester's international concert venue, built to give the best possible space for music. The Hall hosts over 250 performances a year including classical music, rock, pop, jazz, world music and much more.
The Hall is home to three resident orchestras: the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata. The Hall also programmes its own classical music season, the International Concert Series. The Hall works with a range of promoters and charity hirers on other programming.
The construction of The Bridgewater Hall was funded in partnership by Manchester City Council and Manchester Development Corporation with assistance from the European Regional Development Fund.
The ongoing operation of the Hall is now the responsibility of an independent charitable trust, Manchester Concert Hall Limited. The Bridgewater Hall is managed by SMG Europe Holdings Limited. SMG is one of the world’s largest international venue operators. The Bridgewater Hall is part of SMG’s expanding UK theatres division, which also includes York Barbican, the Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle and Whitley Bay Playhouse, with Scunthorpe’s Plowright Theatre and Baths Hall to follow later in 2011.
Leeds Town Hall
Leeds Town Hall is a Grade 1 listed building and was built by Cuthbert Brodrick after a competition to build the Town Hall was held in 1852.
The Town Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1858 and is
home to an impressive 3-manual organ, the largest of its kind in Europe,
built by Gray and Davidson.
The hall is the venue of the Leeds International Piano Competition final.
Sheffield City Hall
Sheffield City Hall is a Grade II listed building in Sheffield, England, containing several venues, ranging from the Oval Concert Hall which seats over 2,000 people to a ballroom featuring a sprung dance floor. It is currently operated by Sheffield International Venues.
The large hall dominates Barker's Pool, one of Sheffield's central squares, which also contains the city's War Memorial.
The building was designed in 1920 by E. Vincent Harris, but was not completed until 1932. During World War II a bomb exploded in Barkers Pool, damaging the pillars of the building. The scars of the explosion can still be seen to this day. It is a neo-classical building with a giant portico. The Oval Hall is the largest hall in the building, seating 2,271 people and is commanded by an angel's chorus. This provides both natural light to the main hall and can also be used by a hidden choir whose voices are carried through the building and down onto the audience. The Grand Willis III Organ is the largest in Sheffield with over 4000 pipes and four manuals. The organ sits in a chamber situated behind the large decorative grills facing the audience.
The Oval Hall is complemented by the more intimate 500-seater Memorial Hall and the Ballroom which can host anything from after show parties to club nights and afternoon tea-dances.
In 2005, the City Hall and its surroundings were refurbished and re-developed at a cost of £12.5 million.
New York City
Built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1890, Carnegie Hall is one of the most famous halls in the United States for classical and popular music.
The inside of Carnegie Hall is renowned for its beauty, history and acoustics.
Carnegie Hall Address: *
881 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.
Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music. Carnegie Hall has its own artistic programming, development, and marketing departments, and presents about 250 performances each season. It is also rented out to performing groups. The hall has not had a resident company since 1962, when the New York Philharmonic moved to Lincoln Center's Philharmonic Hall (renamed Avery Fisher Hall in 1973).
Other concert halls that bear Carnegie's name include 420-seat Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, West Virginia; 1928-seat Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the main site of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh; 1022-seat Carnegie Music Hall annexed to Pittsburgh suburb Homestead's Carnegie library; and Carnegie Hall, a 540-seat venue, in Andrew Carnegie's native Dunfermline.
Het is 15 september 1881. In Amsterdam komen zes illustere burgers bij elkaar om een 'Voorloopige Commissie tot het bouwen van een concertzaal' in het leven te roepen. De Parkzaal, in de Plantage, staat op het punt gesloopt te worden, Felix Meritis is te klein, het Paleis voor Volksvlijt oncomfortabel en berucht om de slechte akoestiek.
Enkele maanden eerder had het Weekblad De Amsterdammer de beschamende staat van het hoofdstedelijke muziekleven aan de kaak gesteld. 'Terwijl in het buitenland de bestuurders van alle zichzelf respecterende steden voor goede concertzalen zorgen, voert onze overheid het noodlottige woord kunst is geen regeringszaak in haar schild', berichtte het weekblad.
ER WORDT GEBOUWD
Voor de keuze van een locatie gaat de commissie te rade bij Pierre Cuypers, architect van het Rijksmuseum dat inmiddels in aanbouw is. Hij bemiddelt bij de aankoop van een terrein in de buurt van het nieuwe museum, net buiten de gemeentegrens, midden in de weilanden van Nieuwer-Amstel.
Op 7 maart 1882 liggen de plannen op tafel voor een Naamloze Vennootschap met een kapitaal van destijds f 400.000.-, waarvoor aandelen à f 1000.- te koop worden aangeboden. Op 8 juli 1882 is de oprichting van de N.V. Het Concertgebouw is een feit, hoewel nog voor slechts f 250.000.- is ingetekend.
Een specifieke bouwstijl wordt niet verlangd, als het geheel maar
past op een terrein van 130x55 m, niet meer gaat kosten dan f
300.000.-, en ruimte biedt aan ongeveer 2000 toehoorders. Na enig
geharrewar wordt gekozen voor het ontwerp - zij het in
vereenvoudigde vorm - van Amsterdams best beklante architect,
Adolf Leonard (Dolf) van Gendt, schepper van
onder meer de Hollandsche Manege, Frascati, De IJsbreker en de
Galerij van het Paleis voor Volksvlijt.
Eind 1886 is Het Concertgebouw voltooid, maar door gebrek aan vertrouwen van de geldschieters en de nodige strubbelingen met de gemeente Nieuwer-Amstel, onder meer over het dempen van een slootje, de bestrating van de toegangswegen en de levering van straatverlichting, kan het langverwachte gebouw pas op woensdag 11 april 1888 feestelijk worden ingewijd.
On 15 September 1881, six distinguished individuals gathered in Amsterdam to establish the so-called Provisional Committee for the Building of a Concert Hall. The Parkzaal, in the city's Plantage neighbourhood, was about to be demolished, Felix Meritis was deemed to be too small and the Paleis voor Volksvlijt (destroyed by fire in 1929) was uncomfortable and notorious for its poor acoustics.
Only a few months before, the weekly De Amsterdammer had bemoaned the disgraceful state of musical life in the capital city. "While the government of every self-respecting city abroad provides good concert halls for its residents, ours claims it has no business meddling in the ill-fated affairs of the arts," the paper reported.
The committee consulted Pierre Cuypers, the architect who had designed the Rijksmuseum (under construction at the time), about choosing a location. Cuypers negotiated the purchase of a plot of land near the new museum, just outside the municipal boundaries, in the middle of the pastures of Nieuwer-Amstel.
On 7 March 1882, plans were being discussed to form a public limited company with a capital of 400,000 guilders, for which shares were offered at 1,000 guilders a piece. On 8 July 1882, the company, called N.V. Het Concertgebouw, had been established, but only 250,000 guilders' worth of shares had been subscribed.
No architectural style had been specified, but the entire building could be no larger than the plot of land, measuring 130 m by 55 m, could not exceed the sum of 300,000 guilders to finish and had to accommodate approximately 2,000 concert-goers. After some minor squabbles, a design (albeit in a simplified form) by Amsterdam's most popular architect at the time - Adolf Leonard (Dolf) van Gendt, creator of the Hollandsche Manege riding school, the Frascati theatre, De IJsbreker and the gallery of the Paleis voor Volksvlijt - was selected.
The Concertgebouw was completed at the end of 1886, yet owing to a lack of confidence in the financial backers and a good deal of wrangling with the Nieuwer-Amstel municipality over such things as the filling of a ditch, the paving of the access roads and the provision of street lamps, the inauguration ceremony did not take place until Wednesday, 11 April 1888.
THE SECRET OF THE MAIN HALL
What exactly is the secret of the Main Hall's world-famous acoustics? Is it pure coincidence that Dolf van Gendt, whose own family avowed that he 'had the musicality of a cow', managed to create such a perfectly resonating space?
In the era in which the Concertgebouw was built, acoustics were thought to be a mysterious interplay between a variety of undefinable factors. It was not until the twentieth century that professional recording equipment would be developed. Before then, architects would often try to copy other halls that were considered successful acoustic examples. For instance, the Recital Hall is practically identical to the acclaimed Felix Meritis oval hall, while the Main Hall was modelled on the large concert hall of the new Gewandhaus in Leipzig in terms of its design and the materials used.
Because of the delicate acoustics, it has always been a priority to leave the original design and finish of the halls as intact as possible during subsequent restorations. After all, even with the most advanced equipment, the Main Hall simply refuses to divulge the secret of its unparalleled acoustics.