|Gasteig Philharmonie [Source: Schlaier – own work.|
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]
By Rolf Dumke
An architectural and political contest is gripping Munich. It concerns the location and design for a second concert hall for Munich’s homeless Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, under chief conductor Mariss Jansons. It is one of the top ten orchestras in the world, besides the number one in Munich, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Valery Gergiev and Zubin Mehta.
|Mariss Jansons conducts Vienna’s 2012 new year concert|
[Source: The Guardian]
Below is a video of the performance we presumably heard at the Gasteig two decades ago:
Ironically, the video finally gives us an idea of how fine this concert actually was.
The more Mariss Jansons improved the reputation of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the more political pressure rose to build a second concert hall – one with good acoustics for this excellent orchestra. But the problems have been to find a good central location, one that does not destroy Munich’s fine architectural landscape, and to find the cash from the city of Munich and the Bavarian Parliament to build it.
There has understandably been much dithering by the Bavarian Parliament. How many cities in the world are blessed with two excellent symphony orchestras? Other Bavarian regions demanded that cultural spending in their cities should come first, seeing that Munich has been historically overly blessed with cultural attractions.
|Pinakothek der Moderne [Source: Blouin Art Info]|
This was planned to cost 200 million Deutsche Mark, rising to 237.5 million Deutsche Mark, i.e. 121.4 million Euro, because of the repair of shoddy construction. For example, the signature huge rotunda in the entry hall threatened to crash down on visitors as cracks appeared and prompted the museum’s being shut down for seven months at a cost of 750,000 Euros. The shoddy construction was a result of too early putting a limit on construction costs while planning was still continuing and by unreasonable haste to try to finish construction on the millennial year 2000. The government appointed its own construction manager with a priority of cutting costs, against the warning of the architect. Braunfels was, thus, not responsible, according to a report of the Bavarian General Accounting Bureau in 2010. (See Süddeutsche Zeitung of May 17, 2010.) The cost overruns on this project burned the public hand and put further big projects in Munich on hold for about fifteen years.
Public revenues have improved in the last five years, other regions have gotten their share of public spending, and memories of shoddy, cheap public construction have faded. So now is the time to splurge on a second symphony concert hall, before the need for large new expenditures becomes too apparent to the voters. Today’s news headlines state that by the end of November one million refugees had crossed German borders in 2015. The costs to support Syrian and other refugees, and to house, train, and educate them in the next decade will be very expensive.
The Gasteig needs substantial renovations, which would require its closure for years. Building a second concert hall fast would solve the problem of where the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra could play. The new concert hall could be shared with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra while the Gasteig was being renovated. The cost of establishing a temporary venue for rehearsals and performances for the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra would be eliminated.
|Orleansplatz Ostbahnhof Muenchen|
[Source: Rufus46 – own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]
This area has become a hip place in Munich in the last quarter century, the location of popular music, dance, modern art, bars, and night life. But it is still scruffy. The hope is that a new temple of music would improve the veneer of the location and lower the age of the symphony audience, which is now old and excessively educated. This population will die out in the next ten to twenty years unless it is replenished by younger persons from a more diverse background.
I think that the political planning for the new concert hall is excellent. Mariss Jansons is in favor of these plans, too. He is happy that, finally, his long-wished-for new house will be constructed. The venue promises to lure a new and younger audience to hear the symphony. However, the planning has been kept almost secret and seems to rate different possible venues by an unclear weighting scheme, receiving the ire of the conservative national newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which wants a more central location.
|West side of the Odeonsplatz, |
looking south to...Feldherrnhalle
[Source: Kai Effelsberg – own work.
Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons]
Von Klenze designed the Ludwigstrasse as a one-kilometer-long promenade, from the “Siegestor,” Victory Gate, at one end – inspired by the Roman Constantine Arch – celebrating the Bavarian army’s war against Napoleon,
|Siegestor, Victory Gate [Source: Google images]|
|The Bavarian State Library|
[Source: Hans-Rudolf Schulz - Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.
Licensed under Copyrighted free use via Commons]
|The Feldherrnhalle on the Odeonsplatz|
[Source: Wikiuser100 – own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons]
|Stephan Braunfels’s design for a concert hall|
|Bavarian Ministry of Agriculture [Same source]|
For more images along Ludwigstrasse, see here. For an excellent architectural history, see “Ludwigstrasse: The ‘via triumphalis’ of King Ludwig I.”
The most important cultural commentary about all this appeared in the December 5 Feuilleton [feature pages] of the FAZ (the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), which criticizes the unclear Munich planning procedure that led to favor a location for the new concert hall outside the cultural center, and mentions Stephan Braunfels’s plans to replace the Ministry of Agriculture’s main building with his design. And the NY Times commented in December 2014 on “Mariss Jansons Fights for New Concert Hall in Munich,” including Leonard Bernstein’s view of the Gasteig, “Burn it.”
Two articles in the Süddeutsche Zeitung this week present opposing cases for the location of the new concert hall. “The Classics Belong in the Middle of Social Life” argues for the placement of the new concert hall behind the Ostbahnhof as part of a residential renewal program. “The New Munich Concert Hall. Hidden between Factory Buildings” is a critique of the Ostbahnhof location’s inaccessibility, its cramped location, and the problems of dampening noise from nearby railways and subway trains.
|Copyright © 2015 by Rolf Dumke|