Kulturpalast Dresden conveys romance in modern times

JJust like the folk song invented by the German Romantics, Wolfgang Schäuble also awakens “look natural” in the sense of “unaffected” when he delivers the speech at the opening of the new concert hall at the renovated Kulturpalast in Dresden. Although he has an entire manuscript in front of him, the Finance Minister, a rhetorical innovator in concealment art, turns everything into vivid words born of instant interest. He says our “need for proximity” will not be satisfied by any digital technology or social media. Nor is there a substitute for face-to-face encounters between artists and audiences in “Self-Understanding Communities in Works of Art”. That is why we need meeting places like this hall in this house, because there are more than enough places for isolation.


The cost of converting the building is 100 million euros.
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Photo: dpa

Schäuble’s sympathetic discourse resonates with the ancient desire to confront modern division through the integrative power of art. And although he does not speak of music at all, the very German idea of ​​”ultimate music” of “absolute music” is the ideal and romantic idea in which this desire becomes an art with the greatest effect: the amalgamation of everything finite into the infinite, the orchestral sound From the symphony of the nineteenth century, which was radiating from Germany to Europe. His charm must meticulously connect what the zeitgeist divides.

Sound like magic fog

The new concert hall, introduced by the architectural office Gerkan, Marg and Partners in the old Kulturpalast since 1969, had already been set for this ideal when the competition was announced: ‘The traditional warm sound of Dresden’. Sitting on the parquet floors of the auditorium, which architecturally follows the principle of balconies of vineyards such as the Berlin Philharmonic or the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the sound of the Dresden Orchestra under the direction of Michael Sanderling spreads like a magical mist.

The Kulturpalast was planned as a conference and concert hall with more than two thousand seats, used by the Dresden Philharmonic as well as jazz, rock and pop bands.


The Kulturpalast was planned as a conference and concert hall with more than two thousand seats, used by the Dresden Philharmonic as well as jazz, rock and pop bands.
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Photo: dpa

Although the intensity of the separation of strings and woodwinds is sufficient, although violinist Julia Fischer stands out strongly from the orchestra in Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdi’s Violin Concerto, Totti remains cloudy. From the first level one hears the single lines of the strings more clearly, and Matthias Goeren’s solo voice remains obscured only when the baritone trumpet doubles in the last stanza of Franz Schubert’s “An Sylvia”, organized by Alexander Schmach. But the “warmth and acoustic security,” as Sanderling calls it, are retained.

Like all new halls, the hall is not perfect yet. You’ll have to reset the nine acoustic sails on the ceiling in order to capture the echo of one flap or another that becomes independent – less in an MDR choir than it actually is in an orchestra – in the finale of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. As in the case of the Berlin Philharmonic, the height of the orchestra stage may be reconsidered so that the sound of the strings above the heads of the stalls does not disappear and leave them bored. But all this can be corrected. The orchestra, which previously had little time to get acquainted with the hall, will adapt to it.

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