This stunning concert hall was built from 1956 to 1963 by the architect Hans Scharoun (1893-1972).
The year before last I saw a fantastic concert here of the dramatic symphony Romeo et Juliette by Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, with three singers including the mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager.
If you are looking for a very interesting free thing to do in Berlin, you could take a tour of the Philharmonie.
These tours start every day at 13:00 (that's 1.00 p.m. to you), and all you have to do to join is to be one of the first 25 people to show up at the stage entrance and ask for a ticket.
The tour I took was in German and English (sort of), but they say they also offer tours in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
Among other interesting facts, we learned that the sections of the hall directly in back of the orchestra, facing the conductor, are always the first ones to be sold out when Sir Simon Rattle is conducting.
Home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, this wild archtectural building is quite gorgeous on the inside. The staff is very helpful in providing information on upcoming concerts and obtaining tickets. There is also a musical instrument museum close by.
My husband and I are both huge music lovers. I had never been to a symphony before and wanted to try something new, so I thought, what better place than on our next trip to Europe? I read a blurb about the Berlin Philharmonic in my guide book, so I did a bit more research. The Berlin Philharmonic has amazingly been around since 1887, and their current home is the Kulturforum in the cool looking Philharmonie building. Their conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, has been on the scene since the mid-1970s, and with the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002. We were extremely lucky that the opening night fell during our visit to Berlin, and that we were actually still able to get tickets online before we left from home. The concerts often sell out. There are quite a few price points to choose from, ranging from 27 EUR to 80 EUR, and we got two on the cheaper end. Tickets are a little bit expensive, but the experience was very cool and worth the price. Even though it was my first time seeing a symphony, it was a little bit magical watching all of the musicians playing together, bows in the air and rocking in their seats, or the harpists playing delicately, or the percussionist switching between instruments. And it was very entertaining to watch the conductor and try to figure out what all his different motions meant! (Which, I concluded, could not be figured out :))
A Saturday night concert at the Philharmonie was the undoubted highlight of my trip to Berlin. Unlike the Deutsche Oper, this is certainly an architecturally stimulating and innovative building. Not to everybody's taste and I have seen it compared to a circus tent but really the outside appearance is quite irreleveant.
Inside it is simply superb and not being very good at mathematics I'm at a loss for a geometric term to describe it. The stage is quite low to the ground and the seating slopes off in every conceivable direction, including directly behind the musicians, facing the conductor. I've never been in a theatre with more generous leg-room and the view of the stage seems unimpeded from all vantage points. I was in section B, directly facing the stage, wonderful seats which cost the princely sum of EUR18.
Doubtless the tickets would have cost considerably more if the Berlin PHilharmonic were performing but this concert was by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and Choir with several guest performers and conductors. The pieces performed included a choral performance of Handel's Alleluia, some Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Bizet and a number of other composers I'd never heard of before.
The grand finale of the evening was a real showstopper. Ravel's Bolero with the drum solo performed by Constantine Averginos. Like everyone in the world I know that piece of music well but had not been aware of the huge role of the drum in it. But the sight of Averginos with his snare-drum beating out the rhythm for 15 minutes non-stop, was an experience I will never forget.
Ticket Hotline: (0049) 254 88 999
Box Office: 9-6 daily
On April 3, 2006, I had the pleasure of seeing Madredeus, a portuguese folk/jazz band and the lovely singer Teresa Salegueiro perform inside. The acoustics are amazing and the interior design is spectacularly modern.
The exterior has the weirdest shape because it was designed to have perfect acoustics without focus as to the facade. The world's great symphony, the Belrin Philharmonic performs here and are led by the world's greatest composer, Liverpool's own Simon Rattle.