Essential Architecture-  Amsterdam



Adolf Leonard van Gendt


Amsterdam, Holland




NeoClassical with Second Empire  influences


based on the Neue Gewandhaus in Leipzig, built two years earlier (and destroyed in 1943)


The Concertgebouw is a concert hall in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Because of its superb acoustics, the Concertgebouw is considered one of the three finest concert halls in the world, along with Boston's Symphony Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna.

The architect of the building was Adolf Leonard van Gendt, who, for inspiration, drew on the Neue Gewandhaus in Leipzig, built two years earlier (and destroyed in 1943). Construction commenced in 1883 in a pasture beyond what was then the confines of the city in Amstelveen. 2,186 piles twelve to thirteen meters in length were sunk into the sandy soil. The hall opened on April 11, 1888, with an inaugural concert in which an orchestra of 120 musicians and a chorus of 500 singers participated, performing works of Wagner, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven.

The Grote Zaal ("main hall") is 44 meters long, 28 meters wide, and 17 meters high; it seats about two thousand. It has a reverberation time of 2.8 seconds without audience, 2.2 seconds with, making it ideal for the late Romantic repertoire such as Mahler. Though this characteristic makes it largely unsuited for amplified music, groups such as The Who and Pink Floyd performed there in the 1960s.

There is also a smaller oval-shaped hall behind the main hall, the Kleine Zaal ("Small Hall"), which is 20 meters long and 15 meters wide. Its more intimate space is well-suited for chamber music and lieder.

When the Concertgebouw was built, acoustics were something of a black art; like in shipbuilding, designers drew upon what worked in the past without entirely understanding the underlying science (even today it is still not well understood). When the building had been completed, the acoustics were not perfect, and a lot of effort went into fine-tuning the aural ambience. During later restorations, particular care has been taken not to alter the materials used for interior decoration with this in mind.

Today, some eight hundred concerts per year take place in the Concertgebouw for a public of 850,000, which makes it the best visited concert hall in the world.