Boards that mean the world

A new stage floor
for the Philharmonie

“The boards that mean the world” is how Friedrich Schiller described the theatre stage in his poem An die Freude. In the Philharmonie, these boards accommodate almost every evening sometimes more, sometimes fewer artists, lighter and heavier instruments and a vast number of music stands, chairs and other paraphernalia... All this makes these boards thin and worn over time. During the summer break, the stage floor in the Philharmonie was renewed so we took a closer look at the process.

When the Philharmonie becomes a workshop
No longer salvageable: this is how battered the stage floor looked recently

Normally, the stage floor is sanded and resealed every few years, but after about 10 to 15 years, the planks become too thin and need to be replaced completely. The wood used is not just any wood, but exclusively high-quality Oregon pine, a Douglas fir species from the North American west coast. This type of conifer was already used by architect Hans Scharoun for the construction of the Philharmonie. It is among the tallest trees on earth, has a particularly strong trunk and ais perfect for particularly demanding areas such as stage construction.

A special kind of puzzle: each piece of wood is removed individually and replaced with a perfect fit

Our stage floor not only has to look good and be robust, it is first and foremost part of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s resonating body. This applies particularly to the sound which is transmitted directly to the floor via the endpins of the basses and cellos. But the overall sound of the hall is also greatly affected by the material used. That is why the renewal is so time-consuming: in order to preserve the original sound of Scharoun’s building, each piece of wood is taken out individually and replaced by an identical one. The material is still glued with felt, which guarantees that the perfect sound is not disturbed by any sudden creaking of the floor.

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