Concert halls come in all shapes and sizes – the old, the new, the cosy and the cavernous and everything in between. Here are the most famous:
Royal Albert Hall, London
Alongside Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, the Royal Albert Hall is pretty much a British institution. It’s as famous worldwide as tea and fish and chips, and it’s even been nicknamed Britain’s Village Hall!
While it’s best known for the annual BBC Proms concerts, the Royal Albert Hall is actually one of the hardest working concert venues anywhere in the world, hosting an incredible 400 performances every year. By anyone’s standards that’s some village hall.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
It’s pretty much impossible to think of Australia without thinking of the Sydney Opera House. Together with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background, it forms one of the most iconic photos in the world, and is usually the very first photo to be beamed around the globe (complete with fireworks) every New Year.
Despite the name, the Sydney Opera House is not just one but seven venues together, hosting 1.2 million concert-goers a year plus 350,000 who come just to tour the building. Oddly perhaps, the building doesn’t have the best reputation for acoustics, making it a challenge for performers and set designers alike.
Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin
German designers have a reputation for precision and the Berliner Philharmonie is the pitch perfect realisation of that philosophy. Architect Hans Scharoun realised that people prefer to gather round a performer when they listen to music, so he designed the hall as the world’s first modern music-in-the-round venue.
The Philharmonie’s asymmetrical main hall uses terraces, so-called vineyard style seating the aim of which is to deliver the purest possible listening experience no matter where a concert-goer is seated.
Carnegie Hall, New York
In the States it’s said that once you’ve performed at Carnegie Hall you’ve arrived – really arrived – on the world stage. So, while Carnegie Hall might not be the biggest concert venue in the world (it’s not) and while it might not be the most beautiful (the outside is kind of ugly) it is probably the most prolific.
The hall’s playbill over the decades – everyone from Groucho Marx, Glen Miller, Ike & Tina Turner and Shirley Bassey to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones – is proof positive of that.
Vienna State Opera, Vienna
Although not well received by concert-goers when it opened in 1869 for (incredible as it might seem now) not being grand enough, the Vienna State Opera is now quite rightly regarded as one of the most elegant, classic concert halls in the world.
This truly lavish venue is also remarkable for its policy of selling last minute standing room only tickets for as little as €3. So, concert-goers can admire its wonderful architecture (and listen to what is regarded as some of the best opera and ballet in the world) for less than the price of a Sound of Music CD.