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A miraculous and perfect sound hall, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam



Concertgebouw means concert hall.

The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam’s Museumplein is a historic music hall that opened in 1888.

With four excellent halls, the Concertgebouw is home to the Royal Concertgebouworkest.


History of the Concertgebouw

Foundation of the Concertgebouw Association

Before the Concertgebouw was built, there were three music halls in Amsterdam in the early 1880s.

One is a music hall on the verge of collapse due to aging…
One is a music hall of a very small hall…
One is a music hall with the worst sound space…

Amsterdammers wanted a new hall.


Amsterdam citizens requested the government to build a new music hall, but their request did not come true.

So six Amsterdam citizens founded the Concertgebouw Association.

A member of the Concertgebouw Society, Cuypers was the architect designing the National museum, Rijksmuseum, which was under construction at the time. On his advice, the site for to build a new hall was decided across from the Rijksmuseum.



Construction of a concert hall

In 1882 the Concertgebouw Association founded Concertgebouw Co., Ltd. and preparations for construction began in earnest.

They decided to collect the construction budget of 400,000 guilder with stock certificates, but only about half, 250,000 guilder, were sold.

Therefore, they changed the construction budget to 300,000 guilder and held a design competition for a music hall for 2,000 seats.

In a design competition, Dolf van Gendt’s design was selected and the construction was started. (About Dolf van Gendt, he later designed Amsterdam Central Station with Cuypers.)



From building completion to opening

In 1886 the building was completed. However, the music hall could not be opened.

In order to open the music hall, the local government requested the maintenance of the surrounding area, such as reclaiming the canal and installing streetlights. But they didn’t have the money to meet these demands.


It took two years to solve the problem and the Concertgebouw was grand opened in 1888.

The premiere concert was held grandly by a 120-member orchestra and 500-member choir.




The architecture of the Concertgebouw

<photo credit: asvensson Concertgebouw via photopin (license)>

Dolf van Gendt’s design features a majestic facade that blends Neoclassical and Neo-Renaissance architecture.

2186 wooden piles were used to build a solid foundation for the construction of a huge hall in the Netherlands, where the ground is weak.

However, it still suffered from subsidence, and in 1983, 100 years after its completion, the danger of collapse increased.

Therefore large-scale renovation work added 400 metal piles to build a stronger foundation.


Miracle design

Music hall interior design focuses on sound reflection and reverberation. So, a design that takes into account the layout of the stage and seats, the shape of the walls and ceiling, and the material of the finishing materials is required.

However, Dolf van Gendt didn’t know enough about music hall design. Therefore, it is a unique design that is unprecedented in music halls.


Concertgebouw is a rectangular parallelepiped space where the reverberating sound scatters, and there is a skylight that diffusely reflects the reverberating sound. It was feared that even playing in such a haphazardly designed music hall would cause harsh reverberations.


<photo credit: Alessandro Grussu 104 – Amsterdam via photopin (license)>

When the orchestra actually performed at the Concertgebouw, something unbelievable happened.

A hall of this size should have a reverberation time of about 2 seconds. Concertgebouw reverberation time 2.8 seconds, 2.2 seconds when the audience is full. This is perfect sound!. This was an amazing and wonderful music hall design.


This is mystery, wonder and miracle, the Concertgebouw, with its perfect sounds design, ranks among the top 3 in the world for the best concert halls for symphonies.

Let’s listen to the perfect symphony at Concertgebouw.

Concertgebouw, (Sep 2022 survey)
Address: Concertgebouwplein 10, 1071 LN Amsterdam
URL: Concertgebouw.nl



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