Concerto No. 5 In E-Flat Major For Piano And Orchestra, Op. 73 (Emperor)

Beethoven wrote his fifth pianoconcerto while he had paid employment in Vienna. It premiered in 1811, in the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. I would like to focus on that place, because of it’s significance to me personally, and to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

The first Gewandhaus was built as a medieval cloth hall (Dutch: Lakenhal). In 1781 a concert hall was built in the building. It became the venue for many famous premieres and the newly founded Gewandhaus Orchestra developed a good reputation.

XZL151530 The Leipzig Gewandhaus with a piece of music by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) (w/c on paper) by German School, (19th century) watercolour on paper Private Collection German, out of copyright

It was used until 1884, when it was deemed too small for the growing group of concertgoers. A new hall was needed. The old building was repurposed as part of an office building and left in ruins for a long time. Only after the Wende it was rebuilt and restored. I have been there I guess ten years ago, in an event venue in the cellar.

The new building was built by Martin Gropius and featured a large concert hall in the so called shoe-box shape. It was opened in December 1884. The Gewandhaus Orchestra continued to celebrate successes in it under a series of good conductors (Furtwängler and Bruno Walter). The shoe-box shape was inspiration for the concert halls in Boston and Amsterdam.

It was destroyed in air raids on the city in the Second World War. The government of the GDR didn’t rebuild it until 1977, when Kurt Masur, the new conductor, laid the first stone for the new and current building.

I have been there some years ago, and I didn’t like the famous acoustics that much. It was probably because it is one of those places where you can site around the orchestra. You can find yourself at the other side of the orchestra, listening to a stage in reverse. I should do a retry in a better place, I suppose.

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