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Grand Opening of the Elbphilharmonie Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Culture, Current Events, Music, Television, Things to do, Travel

Last week on Wednesday, one of the largest, most modern and acoustically best Konzerthäuser (concert halls) in the world had its Eröffnungsfeier (inaugural ceremony) in Hamburg – the Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall). It was highly anticipated, and the opening was a great Erfolg (success). However, there were some issues with building it. And is it really that toll (nice)? Is it worth the millions of Steuergelder (tax expenses) that went into it? And – perhaps the most important question – how does it sound?

Initial problems

“Sie galt als Traum und Albtraum.” – Federal President Joachim Gauck at the Eröffnungsfeier.

The Speicher (storehouse) before its transformation. The glass construction was put on top. (Image by K.l.a.u.s. at De.wikipedia.org under license CC BY SA 2.0 de)

In 2007, under then Bürgermeister (mayor) of Hamburg Ole von Beust, the construction of the Elbphilharmonie was initiated. The idea was to give the city a new Wahrzeichen (landmark) and to create a kulturellen Leuchtturm (cultural lighthouse) for the citizens. The plan was to finish the building in 2010, but it was verspätet (delayed) several times.

It became the most expensive Konzerthaus in the world at a cost of 886 million euros. This was more than 600 million euros more than initially planned! And with a delay of about 6 years, the planning for the building completely failed. But now that it is done, it is quite the impressive building…

The building itself

Ein einzigartiges Haus, dieses Haus im Fluss, das nun entdeckt und mit Leben gefüllt werden will.” – Federal President Joachim Gauck at the Eröffnungsfeier.

Image by Avda at Commons.wikimedia.org under license CC BY SA 3.0

The large glass Philharmonie is 110 m high (about 330 ft). It was built onto a Backsteinsockel (brick socket) on the right Ufer (river bank) of the Elbe. Depending on how you see it, the building looks like a large Segel (sail), a Welle (wave) or a Quarzkristall (quartz crystal). With 120,000 m2 ( 1,300,000 square feet), it is very large, and comparable to the Sydney Opera House in size. Apart from a large Konzertsaal (concert hall) that seats more than 2.100 people, there is a small Saal for 550 people, a 5 star hotel with 240 Zimmer (rooms) and 45 Wohneinheiten (apartments), which cost up to 12 million euros, making them the most expensive apartments of Hamburg.

The big question: Is the building really as great as everybody says? The video below goes through 5 Behauptungen (claims) about the building and breaks them down!

So how was the inauguration?


The Eröffnungsfeier was filmed in several ways, including in 360°, allowing you to freely look around in the video. Watch the Eröffnungsfeier in 360° in the video above. If you want to see the “normal” video, check out the videos below:

It was attended by Bundeskanzlerin (Federal Chancellor) Angela Merkel and Bundespräsident (Federal President) Joachim Gauck, who also gave a speech at the Ereignis (event).

The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester (NDR Elb Philharmonic Orchestra) played that night. You can hear how they sounded – but can we say that it sounds very good? Hard to say – you just have to be there yourself!

To see the program of the night (German with English translations!), check out this link.

To get Karten (tickets) for a concert, check out this link of the Elbphilharmonie website.

Would you like to attend a Konzert at the Elbphilharmonie? What do you think about it – is it a beautiful building that was a necessary expense, or is it just a waste of time and money? What about your country – are there similar monumental buildings that were opened in such a festive manner? Let me know in the comments!

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About the Author:Sten

Hi! I am Sten, and I am half Dutch and half German. I was on exchange in the United States, and I really enjoyed that year! So in that sense, I kind of have three nationalities... I love all of them!


  1. Peter Haney:

    Eye catching, architectural marvel, aber notwendig? Nein. Es ist zu teuer.

  2. alcazar:

    It may have cost more – as usual for public buildings 😛
    but its much cheaper then the new airport in Berlin which still isnt finished after nearly 11 years and already costs ca. 6x more then original planned…