Gothenburg Concert Hall: Konserthuset

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ATHENA Ethical MEDIA

The home stage of the orchestra is the ‘Gothenburg Concert Hall’ which was built in 1935 and can accommodate 1300 audience. Gothenburg Concert Hall is one of three pivotal cultural and artistic institutions of Gothenburg in the cul-de-sac of Götaplatsen where the City Theatre and the Museum of Art are located by the towering statue of Poseidon. A plaque on the building announces: ‘Konserthuset was inaugurated on 4th October 1935, to the tunes of Franz Berwald’s “Sinfonie singulière” and Wilhelm tenhammar’s “Sången” led by the conductor Tor Mann. The building came about thanks to donations and the architect was Nils Einar Eriksson.  There is space enough for 1300 people in the large hall and it is famous for its excellent acoustics. The chamber music hall called Stenhammarsalen has space for an audience of 400 people.’

Nils Einar Eriksson, an advocate of functionalism, was the architect of the concert hall. It has a neo-classical look but modern inside, when it was built, still retains simplicity and elegance. When it was built it had the best sound-system (acoustics) in the auditorium in the world. The concert hall is also used as studio for recordings such as Deutsche Grammophon, and performed here by rock bands such as Yes and Roxy Music.

Jennifer Downing Olsson’s informs via a video about the interior of the concert hall that hundreds and hundreds of wooden panels chiselled out of Canadian sycamore maples were embellished on the walls ‘which is an excellent material for reflecting the sound without distorting the sound’.  She is a contrabassist.

History of the Gothenburg Concert Hall:

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra started as a small local orchestral society with a dedicated concert hall built for it in Heden in Gothenburg based on the drawings of the architect Ernst Krüger. When the concert hall was completed, it was Sweden’s largest musical venue. The wooden concert hall accommodated about 1300 audience and it was inaugurated on 11 February 1905. Under the direction of Tor Aulin, 55-member all male orchestra gave its first performance for the audience seated in the main hall (1,022), balcony (of the fund 172) and the smaller stand (100). The concert hall was built with a capital of SEK 104,000 consisting of 100 shares. The shareholders of the concert hall were Carnegie & Co (20 shares), Carl Wijk’s sterling house (10 shares) and Herman Mannheimer (10 shares) and Caroline Wijk (8 shares). But the orchestra’s activities were funded with a donation that came from Fürstenbergs who gave SEK 360,000 to the formation of an orchestral activity. During the initial years, Wilhelm Stenhammar (1907-1922) was the concert hall’s leading musician, composers like Jean Sibelius, Carl Nielsen and Christian Sinding also visited guested.

Within a decade of its existence, 1905-1915, the concert hall registered more than a million visitors for 906 concerts, 105 meetings and lectures, and 78 events such as film screenings.

1921: For the 300th anniversary celebrations of Gothenburg (1621-1921), the planning for the big anniversary in 1921 (but carried out in 1923), a new venue for Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra was conceived and Götaplatsen was identified. Gamlagoteborg.se informs: ‘A generous Caroline Wijk sent a donation letter to the City Council: “The concert building, in which the Gothenburg Orchestra Association, for a number of years, developed its beautiful and fruit-bearing activities, received, as we know, a completely provisional character and was intended to be used for a comparatively limited time. The question of its replacement with another and permanent building will soon be up to date. The time to prepare a new building therefore seems now to be inside. In order to enable this wish to be realized, I offer to surrender to the City of Gothenburg an amount of SEK 700,000 to be used for the construction and furnishing of a new concert hall.”’ But the musical venue for Gothenbur Symphony Orchestra in its current location did not fruition until 1935 but was acted upon following an accident at its previous location. On 13 January 1928, the concert hall in Heden was burned down in a fire accident.