The Berlin Philharmonie is an icon of classical music – a wonderful auditorium with outstanding acoustics, whose visionary architect inspired many subsequent concert halls all over the world. In October 2013, the Philharmonie celebrated the 50th anniversary of its opening. The Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle and a host of celebrity guests celebrated this anniversary with a spectacular gala concert on the theme of “spatial music”.
As early as the 16th century, composers of the Venetian School created highly diverse spatial music based on the principle of polychoral writing, exploiting the two opposing organ galleries of San Marco, as is impressively documented by the works of Giovanni Gabrieli. Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis also creates the impression for the listener of near and distant music, with the music that seems to come from afar representing a long past chapter in music history.
Similarly shrouded sounds are provided by the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia op. 27 No. 2, known as the Moonlight Sonata, performed by Mitsuko Uchida, while György Kurtág’s spatial composition ...quasi una fantasia... played by the students of the Orchestra Academy together with the pianist, also requires spatially distributed instrument groups in addition to the piano. Hector Berlioz was yet another composer who knew how to use remote instruments skilfully and create imaginary spatial scenes. His monumental Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale op. 15 concludes this concert to celebrate the architect Hans Scharoun’s most significant creation.