On April 11th 1888, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam’s Concert Hall, was inaugurated. No less than 422 carriages lined up in front of the building stretching a long way to the Amstel River. The Concertgebouw was the brainchild of six Amsterdammers who wanted to elevate the cultural life of the Dutch capital to a higher level.
Some interesting facts:
- The first piece of music to be played in the new Concert Hall was Beethoven’s Die Weihe des Hauses Overture.
- A few months after the inaugural night, the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Concertgebouworkest) was established.
- The building was not exclusively used for classical concerts. In 1894, a cycling championship took place in the main hall. After World War II the Concertgebouw building was also used for sports competitions, beauty pageants and political meetings, to generate funds.
- Due to his pro-German stance during the war, the celebrated Willem Mengelberg who had led the Concertgebouworkest for fifty years was suspended by the authorities, making way for a new conductor, Eduard van Beinum.
- Van Beinum died of a heart attack in the Concert Hall in 1959 during a rehearsal of Brahms’ First Symphony.
- In 1988, during its centenary, the Concertgebouw Orchestra received the designation ‘Royal’ to underline its status and cultural significance.
- The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, together with the Symphony Hall in Boston and the Great Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, is counted among one of the top three concert halls in the world of symphonic music.
For more in-depth information about the Concertgebouw, the Concertgebouworkest and its directors, read Issue 41 of Dutch the magazine.
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