Picture Gallery

Philharmonie Berlin

The history of the concert hall in pictures – our gallery shows the history of the Berlin Philharmonie from the planning stage to the present day. 

(Photo: Archiv Berliner Philharmoniker)


The first Philharmonie, a former roller skating rink, was used by the Berliner Philharmoniker as a concert hall from 1888. In this image, made around 1940, Wilhelm Furtwängler is the conductor.


(Photo: Landesarchiv Berlin / Horst Stegmann)


On 29 January 1944, the old Philharmonie was destroyed by bombs. The air raid lasted from midnight to 6 o’clock in the morning. 


(Photo: Archiv Akademie der Künste Berlin)


In August 1956, architect Hans Scharoun won the “competition for the construction of a concert hall with adjoining rooms for the Berliner Philharmoniker”. Here you can see his original sketches for the design.


(Photo: Archiv Akademie der Künste Berlin)


Like the design, the site of the new Philharmonie was also the subject of long discussions. This model shows the Philharmonie in its final location between Kemperplatz and Matthäikirchplatz.



Using as large a model as possible (hence the scale of 1:9) the sound distribution in the hall was tested and the time taken for the sound was measured. (Photo: Archiv Akademie der Künste Berlin)



Herbert von Karajan at the ground-breaking ceremony on 19 September 1960. (Photo: Archiv Berliner Philharmoniker)



Topping out ceremony at the Philharmonie on 1 December 1961. Shortly before, in the August of the same year, the Berlin Wall was built a few hundred metres away. (Photo: Reinhard Friedrich)



The main concert hall of the Philharmonie during construction. The placement of the podium in the middle of the seating was a breakthrough concept that has been adopted in many subsequent concert halls. (Photo: Archiv Berliner Philharmoniker)



Herbert von Karajan and architect Hans Scharoun in the foyer of Philharmonie in 1963. To the right is the sculptor Bernhard Heiliger and his sculpture “Auftakt”. (Photo: Landesarchiv Berlin)



The Philharmonie shortly after its completion, then still painted brown. The characteristic gold-anodized aluminium cladding was installed between 1978 and 1981. (Photo: Landesarchiv Berlin / Bernd Sass)



Opening of the Philharmonie on 15 October 1963. Herbert von Karajan and the Berliner Philharmoniker perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. (Photo: Reinhard Friedrich)


The guests of honour at the opening. Sitting in the front row (left to right): Margit Scharoun, Hans Scharoun, Rut Brandt, governing mayor of Berlin, Willy Brandt, and Intendant Wolfgang Stresemann. (Photo: Archiv Akademie der Künste Berlin)



The Philharmonie in 1964. Due to its peripheral location near the Berlin Wall, the concert hall stands alone in an almost undeveloped environment. (Photo: Reinhard Friedrich)



By 1997, the situation has changed radically. The former death strip has been built over with Potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz, the Philharmonie – and with it, the Chamber Music Hall which opened in 1987 – now stands in the new centre of Berlin. (Photo: Reinhard Friedrich)



A photograph from 2003, taken from the foyer of the Philharmonie. The window mosaic by Alexander Camaro consist of glass blocks, none of which are quite alike. (Photo: Archiv Berliner Philharmoniker)



Shocking moment on 20 May 2008: Fire breaks out during repair work on the roof of the Philharmonie. The fire department quickly bring it under control. (Photo: Helge Grünewald)



The Berlin Philharmonie in 2013: still a visionary piece of architecture and a hallmark of the classical music world. (Photo: Sebastian Hänel)