Before it became dust

The Berlin concerts of 9 to 12 January 1944 — the facsimile programme for which is now on line, and of which we have the complete recording made on the 9th — represent Furtwängler’s final appearances in the hall of the Philharmonie, which was destroyed in an air raid three weeks later.

This is the moment to recall that this hall, which had been home to the Philharmonic Orchestra since its foundation, was originally an enormous roller-skating rink. The hall was extensively modified six years after the orchestra’s first performances and underwent further changes at the beginning of the twentieth century, resulting in the appearance that it retained until its destruction. The building also housed the Beethovensaal, which remained intact for a few more months, and the Oberlichtsaal, a huge space built on the site of the original garden.

Thereafter the Philharmonic would squat in one hall after another — the Beethovensaal, Staatsoper, Admiralspalast — until April 1945, when it finally found a temporary home in the Titania Palast. But that is another story.

And since we have always seen this hall only in black and white, this 3D reconstruction allows us to appreciate its unusual and decidedly 'mittel-europa' colours.

10 June 2018