Royal Concertgebouw

Amsterdam, Netherlands | C.1886

Photo Credit: Ryan Jones

Attending a concert at the Royal Concertgebouw means to attend a performance at one of the finest concerts halls in the world. Translating to “concert building” in English, the Concertgebouw has transfixed audiences for over century with its world-famous acoustics.

In 1881, a committee of prominent Amsterdam residents came together to address the city’s need for a new concert hall. Amsterdam’s existing venues failed to impress, or simply were too small, for the growing metropolis. The committee turned to architect Pierre Cuypers to aid in securing land for a brand new concert hall. Cuypers secured a plot of land in the Nieuwer-Amstel fields.

Once land was secured, the committee moved on to the design. They selected popular Dutch architect Adolf Leonard van Gendt to design the new concert hall. Although having no musical background, Van Gendt was able to create a concert hall with unparalleled acoustics.

After three years of construction, the Concertgebouw was finished in 1886. However, it wouldn’t open for another two years. Hesitation from investors and untimely construction within the municipality delayed the concert hall’s grand opening. When it did finally open, it debuted in grand fashion with a inaugural concert of 120 musicians and 500 singers performing works from Wagner, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven.

Since its grand opening, the Royal Concertgebouw has hosted thousands of acts including rock bands Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Who during the 1960s. Twenty years later, the concert hall underwent major renovations after it was discovered the building was sinking on its plot of land. The Concertgebouw was restored, renovated, and continues to put on performances to this day.

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