Amsterdam through British eyes

Photoblog: Behind the Scenes at the Concertgebouw

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If you’re looking for something a bit different to do, then go and take a tour of the Concertgebouw. With stunning architecture, and an interesting history the tour takes around 2 hours, and it’s really fascinating, even if you’re not a fan of classical music. Tour guide Sara van der Lindt did our tour in English, but if you ask for other languages, these can also be catered for. I went behind the scenes to find out more.

In 1881 the idea for the Concertgebouw was born. There was no money, so six gentlemen raised the funds in order to build this new concert hall so there would be a better place for people to listen to music. At the time, the place earmarked for the Concertgebouw was in the middle of nowhere – the Rijksmuseum was the end of the city, and there was still some distance between the two.

Famous architect Pierre Cuypers was one of the most important architects at the time, but the six gentlemen who were funding the Concertgebouw didn’t like his style of building, so in order to avoid having him design it they asked him to be a judge in a competition for a new architect. The prize – designing the Concertgebouw. Unsurprisingly, the man who won the competition was actually an apprentice of Pierre Cuypers, who had no idea how to build a concert hall. He  modelled it on the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, but altered the sizes of each room to fit the plot of land he was working on. Based on pure luck, the sound was even better than the Gawandhaus.

It didn’t open until 1888, because it took two years from the completion of the building for the goverment of the time to actually put a road in from the Rijksmuseum to the Concertgebouw. On opening night, everyone was late because all of the carriages caused a huge traffic jam. Of course, nowadays there isn’t such a problem.

 

The beautiful ceiling of the Concertgebouw, decorated with ribbons for the summer programme

The organ, which originates from the 1820s

The inside of the Concertgebouw main hall

In the attic above the main hall. This is where they pull up the chandeliers every two months for cleaning.

The conductor’s view as he walks into the hall

In the lighting department

Inside the Jazz club

Sheet music in a post box

Glass of wine to finish off lunch

 

You can go on a guided tour of the Concertgebouw yourself – they have them three times a week, and it costs just €15.

Many thanks to Amsterdam Marketing for making this tour possible.

 

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