You are here

"In the Valley of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall: Beethoven’s Ninth and the Consecration Concert (1963)"

"The construction follows the image of a landscape," architect Hans Scharoun explained in his address delivered at the consecration of Berliner Philharmonie.  "The auditorium is conceived as a valley, and there at its floor, the orchestra resides, surrounded by the rising ‘terraces' of a vineyard."  The festivities concluded with an evening performance of Beethoven’s Ninth conducted by Herbert von Karajan.  As a manifestation of Scharoun’s "organic architecture," the hall’s vineyard style has its roots in sociopolitical ideas from the 1920s that also left their mark on Beethoven reception.  My paper will explore the intersection of architecture and music at that culturally freighted moment in 1963 when both the building and the music were pressed into service as symbols of a new democracy.

Stephen Hinton is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, where he is Professor of Music and of German. He has published widely on modern German music history and theory. His books include The Idea of Gebrauchsmusik (New York, Garland, 1989), the Cambridge Opera Handbook on The Threepenny Opera (Cambridge University Press, 1990), the critical edition of Die Dreigroschenoper for the Kurt Weill Edition (edited with Edward Harsh, 2000), Kurt Weill, Gesammelte Schriften (Collected Writings, edited with Jürgen Schebera, and issued in 2000 by Schott in an expanded second edition) and Weill’s Musical Theater: Stages of Reform (University of California Press, 2012)