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Elbphilharmonie

Building

The Elbphilharmonie is a total work of art: it combines innovative architecture with an exceptional location, outstanding acoustics and a visionary concert programme.

The Elbphilharmonie with its impressive glass facade and wave-like rooftop rises up from the former Kaispeicher building on the western tip of the HafenCity. Accommodated inside are two concert halls, a hotel and residential apartments. Between the old warehouse and the glass structure is the Plaza - a public viewing area that extends around the whole building.

Tube

This 82-metre-long, curved escalator begins at the main entrance of the Elbphilharmonie. It leads visitors up through the Elbphilharmonie building to a panorama window that offers a spectacular view of the harbour and docks. A second escalator then brings visitors up to the Plaza.

Plaza

At a height of 37 metres above ground level, this public viewing platform is open all day long. From here, visitors can reach the concert halls, hotel, Elbphilharmonie Shop, Deck and Deli via stairways and lifts. The outer walkway of the Plaza offers visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of the inner city and the harbour.

More About the Elbphilharmonie Plaza

Grand Hall

The heart of the Elbphilharmonie: the Grand Hall seats 2,100 guests in the »vineyard« style. The stage for artists and orchestras is situated at the centre of the concert hall and is surrounded by terraced seating. An extensive sound reflector is suspended high above the stage.

Recital Hall

The Recital Hall is designed as an intimate, multipurpose space and is ideal for chamber music, lieder and solo recitals, jazz and world music. Equipped with flexible seating and stage elements, the space offers a variety of configurations and seating for up to 550 people.

Kaistudios

The Elbphilharmonie’s »World of Instruments« and wide-ranging music education programme are housed in the Kaistudios. Located within the base section of the Elbphilharmonie building, Kaistudio 1 has a capacity of 150 seats and is ideal for experimental music, seminars, workshops and rehearsals.

Food & Drink

A wide range of dining options and culinary delights awaits visitors to the Elbphilharmonie. Extending over three floors and easily reached by the Tube escalator, the »Störtebeker Elbphilharmonie Hamburg« includes a restaurant, and a shop that offers special events such as beer tastings.

More About Food & Drink

Hotel

»The Westin Hamburg« hotel is located in the upper east part of the Elbphilharmonie and has 244 guest rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, spa and event facilities.

More About the Hotel

Residential Apartments

Forty-five spacious apartments with glass fronts and balconies offer residents spectacular views of the river Elbe, the harbour and the inner city.

Grand Hall

The Grand Hall

The Grand Hall, the heart of the Elbphilharmonie, has seating for 2,100 guests. Music can be heard here at the Grand Opening concert on 11 January 2017 for the first time ever.

Grand Hall / White Skin

The White Skin

The white skin that covers the surface and walls is composed of 10,000 meticulously constructed gypsum fibre panels. By reflecting sound into every corner of the Grand Hall, these panels ensure a perfect acoustic.

The Reflector

Suspended in the middle of the vaulted ceiling of the Grand Hall, the reflector throw backs sound from the stage into every corner of the hall, while at the same time houses parts of the lighting technology and stage mechanics as well as the echo division of the organ.

Recital Hall (2016)

The Recital Hall

In the Elbphilharmonie's second concert hall, the Recital Hall, an elegantly milled wood panelling sees to a perfect sound for 550 people.

Grand Hall Foyer

The Concert Foyers

The Grand Hall foyer has spacious interlaced staircases that extend over several floors.

Grand Hall Foyer

In the Concert Foyers

From here, visitors make their way to their seats, purchase refreshments and snacks from the foyer bars, and enjoy a variety of views over the harbour and the city.

Tube (2016)

The Tube

From the main entrance of the Elbphilharmonie, an 82-metre-long, curved escalator, the so-called Tube, with elaborate lighting leads visitors up through the old Kaispeicher building.

Panorama Window

Panorama window

Visitors take tube to reach a panorama window on the 6th floor; from there a second, shorter escalator leads to the Plaza.

Plaza (Nov 2016)

The Plaza

A spacious loggia for the public: locals, tourists and concertgoers can explore the architecture of the Elbphilharmonie and enjoy a spectacular view of the city, the harbour and the River Elbe from the Outer Plaza.

Plaza (Nov 2016)

The Outer Plaza

Two large arches have been hollowed out of the Elbphilharmonie's glass facade: one very high arch on the side that faces the city, and a slightly smaller one on the harbour part. Visitors have access to the Plaza's outer walkway through large s-shaped glass elements.

Roof

The Roof

Eight large, curved surfaces are responsible for the elegant, rolling rooftop of the Elbphilharmonie. Mounted directly onto the roof are 6,000 glittering panels that create the striking reflection of light.

Music

There is no serious music or unserious music, just good music and bad music.

Leonard Bernstein

More About Music in the Elbphilharmonie

Elbphilharmonie Jazz

featuring the Brad Mehldau Trio

More about Elbphilharmonie Jazz
The Music of Strangers

Hamburg Plays Host to Top Soloists

including Yo-Yo Ma

More about the »Portrait Yo-Yo Ma« series
Play Video

The Best of Classical Music on Offer

Multiverse Matthias Pintscher

More about Matthias Pintscher
Play Video
Mahagony Opera Group

Elbphilharmonie Festivals

Lux aeterna

More about the »Lost in Thought« project
Play Video
DJ Psychaleppo

Elbphilharmonie Festivals

featuring DJ Hello Psychaleppo

More about the »Salām Syria« festival

Architecture

The Elbphilharmonie takes inspiration from three structures: the ancient theatre at Delphi, sport stadiums and tents.

Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron

More About the Architects
Kaispeicher A
©Oliver Heissner

Location

The Elbphilharmonie is located in the historic Sandtorhafen, which was Hamburg’s old working harbour for centuries. The Kaiserspeicher, Hamburg’s biggest warehouse on the water, was built in 1875. Destroyed in the Second World War, it was then rebuilt and renamed Kaispeicher. Cocoa, tobacco and tea was stored here until the 1990s.

Plaza (Nov 2016)
©Iwan Baan

Plaza

At a height of 37 metres above ground level, the public viewing area offers visitors a spectacular 360° view of the city and harbour. Hamburg citizens, tourists, concertgoers and hotel guests are all welcome to take a stroll along this unique walkway.

More about the Plaza
Die Fassade der Elbphilharmonie
©Gilda Fernandez

Glass Facade

The defining feature of the Elbphilharmonie: 1,000 curved window panels, tailor-made to capture and reflect the colour of the sky, the sun’s rays, the water and the city, turn the concert hall into a gigantic crystal. The glass facades in the loggias of the apartments and concert foyers are especially striking: with their boldly convex form they resemble huge tuning forks.

Grand Hall Foyer
©Michael Zapf

Foyers

Concertgoers can access the Grand Hall and Recital Hall foyers via stairs and lifts from the Elbphilharmonie Plaza. The Grand Hall foyer clearly defines the character of the Elbphilharmonie architecture with stairs that extend over several floors. The staircases encircle the concert hall spaciously, creating impressive light effects and providing spectacular views of the city, the river Elbe and the harbour from each foyer level.

View the Foyers

Acoustics

I know that I have done my job as an acoustician well when audiences no longer perceive the large distance to the music.

Yasuhisa Toyota

More About the Acoustician
Grand Hall
©Michael Zapf

Grand Hall

The »vineyard«-style seating in the Grand Hall places audience members no further than 30 metres from the conductor, breaking down barriers between musicians and audience members. The »white skin« that covers the surface of the walls and ceilings in the Grand Hall is composed of approximately 10,000 sheets of gypsum fibre panels. With the help of an expansive reflector that is suspended from the middle of the vaulted ceiling, the panels project sound into every corner of the space – guaranteeing an optimal listening experience from each seat.

View the Grand Hall
Recital Hall (2016)
©Michael Zapf

Recital Hall

In contrast to the Grand Hall, the Recital Hall is designed in the classic »shoebox« style. An elegantly milled wooden panelling supplies a perfect acoustic. Both the Grand Hall and the Recital Hall of the Elbphilharmonie are acoustically autonomous spaces that are completely detached from the rest of the building. Massive steel spring elements perfectly buffer the concrete shell of each respective hall from the outside world. No ships' sirens will ever penetrate these spaces, and not even the sound of a loud trombone ensemble will escape to the outside.

Elbphilharmonie Kaistudio
©Michael Zapf

Kaistudios

Housed in the Kaispeicher warehouse, the Elbphilharmonie’s wide-ranging music education programme offers concerts for children and families, a holiday programme, workshops and more. Many years ago, goods were loaded from ships directly into the warehouse using cargo hatches. Some of the cargo hatches have been now been given a new purpose as balconies, for example, the balcony in Kaistudio 1. A further six Kaistudios complete the music education wing and are used as rehearsal rooms, backstage and foyer rooms, and house for the »World of Instruments«.

The Organ

An Organ You Can Touch

Philipp Klais

More About the Organ Builder, Philipp Klais
Panorama

The organ in the Grand Hall also honours the idea of Elbphilharmonie as a »concert hall for everyone«: it does not hover somewhere high up and out of reach, but is built into the seats traversing three floors of the hall. Touching and feeling is explicitly allowed! The 15 x 15 metre organ is finished with a specially-made protective layer, so that the surface of the pipes cannot be damaged.

How Does an Organ Work?
Organ Configuration

Details

  • 69 Stops

    The Elbphilharmonie organ features 69 stops, 4 manuals – the »keyboards« of the organ – and a pedalboard. Four of the stops are integrated in the reflector above the stage.

  • Two Consoles

    The organ in the Elbphilharmonie can be played not only from the console directly in front of the organ, but also via a mobile, electronic console on stage.

  • 5,000 Pipes

    Ranging between 5 millimetres and over 10 metres in length, the Elbphilharmonie organ’s nearly 5,000 pipes are made mostly of tin. Around 400 are constructed from wood that is partly over 180 years old, guaranteeing durability and good quality.

  • Unique Sound

    From »serrate, smoky« to »bell-like, iridescent«: the tones of the Elbphilharmonie organ are manifold and create a warm sound that fills the Grand Hall. The organ is especially suited to music from the nineteenth century, but also meets the needs of contemporary music.

THE ELBPHILHARMONIE ORGAN

  • 1

    Wind Supply

    The organ’s lungs: this grandest of instruments is comparable to a gigantic wind orchestra. No organist in the world has enough power to breathe air into all the pipes, so four large fan blowers with electric motors do the job. The wind produced by the blowers is adjusted to the exact pressure required before being driven through wooden channels into the pipes.

  • 2

    Console

    The organ’s switchboard: from the seat of the console, the organist can operate every pipe individually or in combination. Each of the four manuals (the keyboards of the organ) and the pedalboard (the keyboard played with the feet) has been allocated specific sets of pipes. Each register – or rank of pipes – produces its own individual tone colour. Groups of registers are called divisions.

  • 3

    The Choir

    The bottom manual is used to play the pipes of the Choir. The division of pipes making up the Choir is stored in a large box with shutters. These can be opened and closed using a foot pedal found above the pedalboard to vary the volume, allowing the sound to swell and diminish. This division is intended to accompany the choir, since, of all the pipes, these pipes produce a sound nearest to the human voice.

  • 4

    The Great

    As its name suggests, this manual controls the organ’s main division of pipes. One could say it is the very backbone of the organ’s sound. The Great is controlled by the second lowest manual.

  • 5

    The Swell

    Just like the Choir, this division also has shutters that can be operated to vary the sound. Played from the third manual, the Swell division has many pipes that together create a convincing orchestral sound. The number and tone colour of the pipes in this division have been specially selected so that the sound can be very loud, but also very soft.

  • 6

    The Solo

    Played from the top keyboard, the Solo includes a range of unusual tone colours and also has some very loud registers. The pipes in this division are particularly suitable for accompanying solo voices and instruments.

  • 7

    Pedal Division

    Wind passes through the pipes in this division when the pedalboard (keyboard played by the feet) is played. The deepest tones are produced via the pedals, so the longest and widest pipes, including the largest of the whole organ, can be found in this division. The biggest pipe is over 10 metres long. Since such large pipes require lots of storage room, they have been positioned at several different places. Registers containing shorter pipes for higher tones are placed together in the small pedal division behind the Solo division.



Did You Know?
The Echo (Fernwerk) is yet another division, which is also not visible, but integrated in the sound reflector hanging above the stage. The Echo division does not have its own specific keyboard but can be played from every keyboard of the organ console.

IVETA APKALNA: - THE ELBPHILHARMONIE’S TITULAR ORGANIST

The queen of instruments has a complex, multi-layered personality. It takes a huge investment of time before one can get to know the organ and all its stops. Cathedrals and churches therefore often have their own organists, and the Elbphilharmonie’s organ will be looked after by a renowned artist: Iveta Apkalna. Together with the Elbphilharmonie team, she is currently developing programme ideas for the organ, discussing the instrument’s special characteristics with guest organists, and is of course also performing concerts of her own.

StartHow It All Began

Browse through the history of the Elbphilharmonie

© Werbeck

1875Kaiserspeicher

With 19,000 square metres of storage space, the »Kaiserspeicher« at the tip of »Kaiserhöft« was the largest warehouse in the port and the only one at which ships could dock directly. During WWII, however, the warehouse was extensively destroyed. As it was not economically viable to reconstruct the building, the City of Hamburg took the decision to blow up the ruins of the »Kaiserspeicher« in 1963.

© Werbeck

1966Cocoa, Tobacco, Tea

In the place of the detonated »Kaiserspeicher«, a new warehouse called »Kaispeicher A« was erected. The Hamburg architect Werner Kallmorgen was commissioned with the design. Like its predecessor, the new Kaispeicher A was geared to storing goods such as cocoa, tobacco and tea.

© Speicherstadtmuseum / Zoch

2003On the Drawing Board

With the rise of container traffic, Kaispeicher A lost its importance in the 1990s and ultimately stood empty. In 2003, Hamburg project developer Alexander Gérard commissioned Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron to design a new concert hall on top of the old Kaispeicher. On 28 February 2007, the Parliament of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg voted in favour of building the Elbphilharmonie. On 2 April 2007, the foundation stone was laid.

2008Creating Space for Something New

The preparations for gutting the Kaispeicher A began. Its foundation walls were preserved, while the whole of the inside was gutted using 25-ton excavators. By the beginning of 2008, around 650 new reinforced concrete piles had been added to the 1,111 existing piles that anchored the Kaispeicher A in the river Elbe. The foundation of the Elbphilharmonie was cast.

© Oliver Heissner

2010Aiming High

Out of the gutted Kaispeicher A, the Elbphilharmonie grew a further 17 floors. In 2010, the last level was added: the 25th floor. The installation of the innovative glass facade began on the ninth floor, which was the first level above the foundation walls.

© Oliver Heissner

2013Major Advances

In April 2013, after many months of building freeze, the Elbphilharmonie partners signed a reassignment agreement. From this point on, the internal construction made major advances: the first 21 panels of the white skin were installed in the upper balconies of the Grand Hall. The 10,000 wall and ceiling panels were created out of a mixture of natural plaster and recycled paper, and fulfil the highest requirements for fire protection as well as for acoustics.

© Oliver Heissner

2014Last Piece of the Puzzle

On 31 January 2014, five fitters attached the last of the 1,100 glass elements to the edge of the rolling rooftop. This concluded the construction of the facade and the exterior of the Elbphilharmonie was now complete.

© Yvonne Ehnert

2016Plaza

The Elbphilharmonie Plaza opened to the public on 4 November 2016, two months ahead of the Grand Opening of the concert hall. An extensive deck and a new public space for Hamburg at the same time, the Plaza also serves as the junction between the old warehouse and the modern glass structure above it. Visitors have access through two large s-shaped glass elements to the »Outer Plaza«, a unique outdoor walkway around the whole building.

© Oliver Heissner

2017Grand Opening

The inauguration of the Elbphilharmonie was celebrated on 11 January 2017. In attendance was German Chancellor Angela Merkel and numerous other guests from the worlds of culture and politics. The first concert in the Grand Hall was performed by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester under the baton of Principal Conductor Thomas Hengelbrock. One of the many highlights: the world premiere of a commissioned work, created especially for this occasion by the German composer Wolfgang Rihm.

© Michael Zapf