While we were in Hamburg, we heard three orchestral concerts. All three concerts took place in Hamburg’s primary concert venue, the Laeiszhalle (also known as the Musikhalle).
The Laeiszhalle is the home of Hamburg’s primary orchestra, The NDR Orchestra Of Hamburg, which presents weekly subscription concerts in the hall. The Laeiszhalle also is the home of the city’s secondary orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony. Further, the hall regularly presents orchestral concerts by the orchestra of the Hamburg State Opera.
In addition to hosting the local ensembles, the Laeiszhalle presents an active schedule of visiting orchestras and artists. It is one of the world’s most famed venues for orchestral concerts and artist recitals.
In our three nights in the hall, we heard a subscription concert by The NDR Orchestra as well as guest concerts by the Oslo Philharmonic and the Paris-based Orchestre Des Champs Elysees.
The interior of the hall is beautiful, and the acoustics excellent. The public staircases and promenades are beautiful, too, vast and grand, but always serious and understated.
Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle was built with a donation bequeathed by shipping magnate Carl Heinrich Laeisz and his wife. Portraits of the couple are to be seen in relief on the main staircase.
The Laeiszhalle was erected between 1904 and 1908 to a design by architects Martin Haller and Wilhelm Emil Meerwein. It is a representative, even magnificent, example of the Hamburg Neo-Baroque style, reflecting the Baroque brick-built architecture of the city from the 17th century.
The opening of the hall was a grand occasion for the city of Hamburg, as for the first time in its history the city could boast of a world-class concert hall.
The main concert hall, with a large and powerful Beckerath organ, seats 2,000 concertgoers. The small concert hall seats 640 concertgoers. In the foyer of the dress circle are two marble busts honoring Hamburg native Johannes Brahms and Peter Illich Tchaikovsky.
The Laeiszhalle survived World War II undamaged. It was completely renovated in 1983.
The square in front of the concert hall was named Johannes-Brahms-Platz in 1997, to mark the centenary of Brahms’ death.
The hall itself celebrates its centenary this year.
In a few more years, the city of Hamburg will have a second major concert hall. A new concert hall is being built directly upon the city’s harbor front. When completed, it will become the home of the city’s second orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony, an orchestra the city of Hamburg is committed to transforming into a major ensemble.