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Architecture for Music: Concertgebouw Amsterdam

This is the Sunday Series, a peek of things in the art music world.

Music has a close bound with architecture for quite some time. Concert halls are also the ones which effects the music and also effected by music. They have also given birth to great architecture designs in the globe.

This series presents the beauty of the structure, in which music creativity flows abundantly.


This is the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. Concertgebouw means as simply as “Concert Building”. It is also the home of Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orchestra, one of the most referred orchestras in the world, if not the best. This building is known for its superior acoustics.

The Grote Zaal (“Main Hall”) seats 2037, and is 44 meters (144 ft) long, 28 meters (92 ft) wide, and 17 meters (56 ft) high. Its reverberation time is 2.8 seconds without audience, 2.2 seconds with, making it ideal for the late Romantic repertoire such as Mahler. Though this characteristic makes it largely unsuited for amplified music, groups such as The Who and Pink Floyd performed there in the 1960s. In addition to orchestras, jazz and world music groups perform in the Grote Zaal.

~ from wiki

Its superb acoustics are often attributed to the traditional shoebox hall design, similar to the Musikverein in Vienna and the Symphony Hall in Boston. It has two auditoriums, the Grote Zaal and Kleine Zaal.

A smaller, oval-shaped venue, the Kleine Zaal (“Small Hall”), is located behind the main hall. The Kleine Zaal is 20 meters (66 ft) long and 15 meters (50 ft) wide. Its more intimate space is well-suited for chamber music and lieder. The Kleine Zaal has 478 seats.

The architect of the building was Adolf Leonard van Gendt, who was inspired by the Neue Gewandhaus in Leipzig, built two years earlier (and destroyed in 1943). Construction began in 1883 in a pasture that was then outside the city, in Amstelveen. 2,186 piles twelve to thirteen meters (forty to forty-three feet) in length were sunk into the soil. The hall opened on April 11, 1888, with an inaugural concert in which an orchestra of 120 musicians and a chorus of 500 singers participated, performing works of Wagner, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven.

By the form and the design of it, does it seem familiar? Yes, the way the seating, pillars and balconies designed is similar to Gedung Kesenian Jakarta in Indonesia. But Gedung Kesenian Jakarta is much smaller with about 450 seats and is a proscenium theater, not a shoebox concert hall.


About mikebm (1339 Articles)
An arts journalist, a conductor, an educator, a young arts manager whose passion drove him to leave a multinational IT cooperation to study Arts Administration and Cultural Policy in London and went back to Indonesia to build the scene there.

2 Comments on Architecture for Music: Concertgebouw Amsterdam

  1. tadi malem aku nonton di sini lhoooo ^-^ Italian Baroque concert bersama Concertgebouworkest, di bawah baton Giovanni Antonini. Solis violinnya dahsyat! Akustiknya sempurna!

  2. wow… tentunya saya iri…. bisa jelaskan dengan kata2 bung hendra? sebegitu mantapnya kah?

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