Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fire at the Philharmonie

A fire which broke out Tuesday afternoon at Berlin's Philharmonie (Phil-har-mo-nee), the concert hall that is home to the Berlin Philharmonic, was under control within a few hours. But not before blanketing the city with lovely haze and calling in what must have been every firetruck in the city.

I work about 5 km to the west of the Potsdamer Platz / Philharmonie area and the fire trucks came in a parade down the street (Ku'damm) for over 25 minutes. I suppose that when you are trying to save an important building, you pull out all the stops.

It is a terrible shame that it caught on fire, but they were able to save the priceless instruments and of course all of the humans got out.

I've been to the Philharmonie twice, once in the smaller Kammermusiksaal for a quintet performance and most recently in the Great Hall for a Japanese Taiko or drum presentation. The Great Hall is huge and unique in its pentagon shape with the performers in the center. The place was absolutely vibrating when the players would hit the BIG drums. I could FEEL the sound in my chest... to me, THAT is the way to experience music!

The building itself looks really strange, almost like a circus tent or something. I giggled the first time I saw it because of its goofy appearance. But the thing is that the shape of the building is needed to make perfect acoustics. Legend has it that every seat in the place has perfect sound and clarity.
That lovely forest you see behind the burning building is the Tiergarten, (Animal park - it was a hunting ground for the royals a few centuries ago) a lovely park which is nicknamed the "Green Lung" of the city.

Evidently the majority of fire/smoke damage was in the roof with minimal water damage down below. This is very good because our company has a social event planned in this building in October!

Top photo from Picture Alliance
Bottom picture credited to the Associated Press.
See the Spiegel Online image gallery.
Read the Spiegel Online story.
Read the Deutsche Welle story.

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