Het Concertgebouw

The word Concertgebouw has a fine ring to it to anyone who listens to classical music on German radio stations, because they keep playing brilliant recordings by the Concertgebouw orchestra.

Although that particular orchestra was not performing when I was in town, I did attend two other concerts in the beautiful building called the Concertgebouw, which fronts on the Museumplein across from the Rijksmuseum. This building dates from 1888, but has been tastefully modernized in recent years.

The name of this building means The Concert Building, as though it were the only one. It is an outstanding concert hall with fantastic acoustics.

It was built between 1882 and 1886, but not opened until 1888. It was modeled after the Neue Gewandhaus in Leipzig, which is not the current Gewandhaus but the one that was destroyed by bombings 1943.

In the 1980s, a hundred years after the Concertgebouw was built, it had to undergo a major overhaul, particularly the foundations, which had been made of wooden pilings and after a hundred years were in a dangerous state of rot.

New entrance hall and lobby

The new entrance hall and lobby were built in the 1980s and were highly controversial at the time. I personally think it is a brilliant addition, preserving the appearance of the original building while creating more space for the booking office and for the convenience of the spectators.

Concertgebouw large hall

The concert I attended in the large hall of the Concertgebouw was by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest) conducted by Yakov Kreizberg (1959-2011), whom I had seen twice before in a much less formal setting when he was conducting open-air opera performances in the courtyard of Weikersheim Castle in the summers of 2003 and 2005.

Concertgebouw large hall

On the program at the Concertgebouw was a Beethoven piano concerto with a young pianist named Jonathan Biss, and then Schubert’s Ninth Symphony, D944.

If by any chance you are under 30, you can go to the box office 75 minutes before starting time and get yourself a Sprint Seat for that evening’s concert for only 15 Euros (assuming it isn’t sold out).

Waiting for the free lunchtime concert

Small recital hall

I also attended a free Lunchtime Concert at the Concertgebouw. All you have to do is pick up a free ticket about an hour beforehand, to be sure of getting a seat.

This concert was held in the small recital hall and featured the Duo Albarus: Martin Grudaj, cello, and Elena Malinova, piano. The concert lasted about forty-five minutes, and they played works by Max Bruch, Ludwig van Beethoven and Sergej Rachmaninov.

(By coincidence I heard three more works by Max Bruch two weeks later at an orchestra concert in Strasbourg.)


My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2017.

Next: Rainy day boat trip in Amsterdam

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