Gewandhaus (Leipzig)

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Today's Gewandhaus on Augustusplatz (2016)

The (New) Gewandhaus is a concert building inaugurated in 1981 on Augustusplatz in downtown Leipzig . Previously there were two predecessor buildings, also known as the Gewandhaus , at other locations, which had served as the home of the Gewandhaus Orchestra since 1781 . In addition, this is the Gewandhaus in Leipzig a cultural Eigenbetriebe the city of Leipzig, which in addition to the Concert Hall Orchestra and the Gewandhaus organist who GewandhausChor and the GewandhausKinderchor belong. There are also various chamber music ensembles such as the Gewandhaus Quartet , the Gewandhaus Wind Quintet and the Gewandhaus Brass Quintet. The Gewandhaus has been under the directorship of Gewandhaus director Andreas Schulz since 1998 .

The original, first Gewandhaus

The first Gewandhaus (behind the archway to the right, a part of the concert hall two windows wide), watercolor by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy .

The building was erected in 1498 in the old town of Leipzig in Kupfergäßchen (today's Kupfergasse) as an armory . After the first floor was used as an exhibition center ( department store ) by the cloth and wool merchants, the whole building was soon called the Gewandhaus . The Leipzig copper scales were also located in the house.

In 1743, 16 merchants came together in Leipzig to found the Großes Concert concert association. It initially consisted of 16 musicians. The first concert took place on March 11, 1743. From 1744 the concerts took place in the “Drey Schwanen” inn on Brühl . When it moved to the cloth merchants' exhibition center (Gewandhaus) in 1781, the orchestra was given the name "Gewandhausorchester".

View into the concert hall of the old Gewandhaus around 1895.

From 1780–1781, a concert hall was built on the second floor of the building by Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe on behalf of the city . The approximately 63 m² orchestra podium was located on the south side of the cuboid hall. The audience sat on opposite rows of seats that were aligned lengthways to the podium, while the rows on the back of the hall were aligned across. Together with the gallery level and standing room, the hall offered space for up to 500 listeners. A concert by the orchestra Das neue Konzert, which dates back to 1743, was heard for the first time on November 25, 1781 . The installation of the concert hall in the larger cloth hall, the almost exclusive use of wood and the construction on wooden supports above the former cloth floor, so that a resonance space was created around the hall, resulted in very good acoustics with a relatively short reverberation time.

The ceiling painting came from Adam Friedrich Oeser and fell victim to renovation work in 1833. Since this renovation led to a public scandal - among other things, the concert hall was rated as a "devil's kitchen" - the Dresden painter and architect Woldemar Hermann was commissioned to redecorate the concert hall in 1834 . In 1842 and 1872 the concert hall was renovated and rebuilt again. After the renovation in 1842, the hall could accommodate 1,000 people.

The front of the hall was decorated with a modified quote from Seneca , which was to become the motto of the orchestra: "Res severa (est) verum gaudium" (in Seneca "verum gaudium res severa est" - "True joy is a serious matter" ).

The original Gewandhaus saw numerous world premieres of important works of classical music, which today are part of the standard repertoire of global concerts. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was one of the important Kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus Orchestra .

After 1884 the house was called the Altes Gewandhaus and was occasionally used for concerts until 1886. The building was partially demolished in 1893–1896, rebuilt and incorporated into the municipal department store complex , where a memorial plaque on the second floor of the historic staircase reminds of the earlier entrance to the Gewandhaus concert hall.

Konzerthaus (second Gewandhaus)

The second Gewandhaus, around 1900.
Wilhelm Gause : In the foyer of the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, 1909

Those responsible for the Gewandhaus at the time wanted to build this new concert hall in the middle of the city center, but the city administration speculated that building the hall on the outskirts of the city center would inspire the development of an adjoining musicians' quarter. On December 11, 1884, a new concert house was opened in the music district southwest of the old town (Grassistraße / Beethovenstraße) , which was often referred to as the New Gewandhaus , referring to the original Gewandhaus . The building was built by Heino Schmieden from 1882 to 1884 according to plans by Martin Gropius ; the construction was financed by a loan from the estate of Franz Dominic Grassi . The concert hall contained a large hall with 1700 seats and a chamber music hall with 650 seats. The orchestra's motto was placed on the gable of the entrance portal. The sculptural jewelry was created by the Berlin sculptor Otto Lessing .

The second Gewandhaus was the architectural model of the Symphony Hall in Boston , built in 1900 , home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra , which was also based on the “shoebox” shape that is considered to be the acoustic model for the concert hall.

In November 1936 the National Socialists destroyed the Mendelssohn memorial by the sculptor Werner Stein (made by Hermann Heinrich Howaldt , unveiled in 1892) in front of the concert hall by night and fog . In 2008, a true-to-original replica of this monument was placed in front of the west portal of the Thomaskirche Leipzig .

During the Second World War , the concert hall was badly damaged in the air raids on Leipzig on December 4, 1943 and February 20, 1944. Initially, it was planned to rebuild the Gewandhaus after the war. It was therefore structurally secured and provided with an emergency roof. Ultimately, however, it was decided to demolish the building and build a new building elsewhere. From March 29, 1968 the ruins of the concert hall were demolished. After many years of using the site as a parking lot, the Humanities Center of the University of Leipzig was opened here in 2002 .

Post-war provisional "Congress Hall at the Zoo"

After the concert hall was destroyed, the Gewandhaus Orchestra had to look for a new home. After the orchestra played in the Capitol cinema in 1944 and 1945 , the Gewandhaus concerts took place in the congress hall at the zoo from 1946 to 1981 .

New Gewandhaus (third Gewandhaus)

Laying of the foundation stone of the New Gewandhaus by Kurt Masur .

On November 8, 1977, the foundation stone for a new Gewandhaus was laid in the city center on Karl-Marx-Platz (today again Augustusplatz ), opposite the Leipzig Opera House on the former site of the Museum of Fine Arts . The Gewandhaus was the first and only new construction of a pure concert hall in the GDR - other large projects in the GDR, however, were planned as multifunctional buildings (mostly as "Kulturhaus", "Kulturpalast" or "Stadthalle"). The approval of the state apparatus for a new Gewandhaus building is mainly attributed to the great commitment of the then Gewandhaus Kapellmeister Kurt Masur .

The design and project for the New Gewandhaus , which was completed in 1981, came from the chief architect Rudolf Skoda with Eberhard Göschel, Volker Sieg and Winfried Sziegoleit ; based on the urban-architectural concept developed by Horst Siegel together with Rudolf Skoda (1975/76). The West German trade journal Bauwelt praised the design with its wealth of shapes as extraordinary for the GDR, "in which - given the dreary uniformity of the series production from common assembly parts, the architecture was almost forgotten". The Leipzig civil engineer Peter Kunze was the chief construction manager for this extraordinary project.

The monumental ceiling painting
Special concert for the builders of the house on October 7, 1981

1980–1981, Sighard Gille created the 714 m² and 31.80 m high ceiling painting Gesang vom Leben for the foyers . It is the largest ceiling painting in Europe. Invisible to visitors because it was painted over and boarded up, there is also an unfinished wall frieze by the painter Wolfgang Peuker .

The great hall with 1900 seats has excellent acoustics , for which the acousticians Wolfgang Fasold, Helgo Winkler, Hans-Peter Tennhardt and Eberhard Küstner were responsible. During the construction the hall was occupied several times by soldiers of the NVA in order to test the acoustics at full capacity. The hall is equipped with a Schuke organ with 6845 pipes. The orchestra motto " Res severa verum gaudium " is in turn in the concert hall above the console of the Schuke organ. A place of this motto that remains hidden from the normal concert-goer is in the staircase of the service area - there the first half-sentence " Res severa " (serious matter) refers to the entrance to the musicians' and choir's dressing rooms and to the stage, the second part of the saying " Verum Gaudium “(Real joy) on the other hand, in the canteen of the Gewandhaus.

The opening concert under the direction of the then Gewandhaus Kapellmeister Kurt Masur took place on October 8, 1981. The program included Siegfried Thiele's Songs to the Sun and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 . The day before, there was a special concert conducted by Kurt Masur for everyone involved in the construction of the Gewandhaus.

In autumn 1989 the Gewandhaus gained political importance. Kurt Masur opened the house for the so-called “Gewandhaus Talks”, public discussion rounds in which the reforms and the future of the GDR were debated. The Gewandhaus thus became a platform for the political opposition in the GDR.

The small hall with 498 seats was also converted into the Mendelssohn hall by Rudolf Skoda in 1997 ; it is mainly used for chamber music.

In 2001, Peter Kulka designed the MDR cube , which is directly connected to the Gewandhaus via a bridge.

Up until the 2014/2015 season, the Gewandhaus performed with the two brands “Gewandhaus zu Leipzig” and “Gewandhausorchester”, which were run in parallel. However, this was abolished in the course of a comprehensive corporate identity change, so that the Gewandhaus and Gewandhausorchester now appear under the uniform name of the “Gewandhausorchester”. The “Gewandhaus zu Leipzig” no longer has its own logo.

Concert organs

Walcker organ in the concert hall

The Walcker organ built in 1884.

For the large hall of the New Concerthaus built in 1884 , the organ building company EF Walcker & Cie. (Ludwigsburg) a large concert organ . The organ case formed a unit with the architecture of the concert hall, it was made according to a design by Martin Gropius. The instrument was handed over as Opus 432 a few days before the opening of the New Gewandhaus.

The organ was destroyed as a result of the bombing in World War II.

I. Manual C-a 3
01. Principal 16 ′
02. Flauto Major 16 ′
03. Principal 08th'
04th Bourdon 08th'
05. Gemshorn 08th'
06th Hollow flute 08th'
07th Quintatön 08th'
08th. Dolce 08th'
09. Viola di gamba 08th'
10. Trumpet 08th'
11. octave 04 ′
12. Reed flute 04 ′
13. Gemshorn 04 ′
14th Clairon 04 ′
15th Fifth 5 13
16. Fifth 2 23
17th octave 02 ′
18th Mixture VI 2 23
19th Cornet v 08th'
II. Manual C-a 3
20th Bourdon 16 ′
21st Principal 08th'
22nd Covered 08th'
23. Salizional 08th'
24. Pointed flute 08th'
25th Aeoline 08th'
26th Voix céleste 08th'
27. Oboe 08th'
28. Basson 08th'
29 Principal 04 ′
30th Flauto dolce 04 ′
31. Piccolo 02 ′
32. Cymbel III 2 23
III. Manual C – a 3
33. Quintatön 16 ′
34. Violin principal 08th'
35. Lovely covered 08th'
36. Concert flute 08th'
37. harmonica 08th'
38. clarinet 08th'
39. Fugara 04 ′
40. Transverse flute 04 ′
41. Harmonia aeth. III 2 23
Pedal C – f 1
42. Principal bass 32 ′
43. Principal bass 16 ′
44. Violonbass 16 ′
45. Sub-bass 16 ′
46. Fifth bass 10 23
47. Covered bass 16 ′
48. Trombone bass 16 ′
49. Octave bass 08th'
50. violoncello 08th'
51. Flute bass 08th'
52. Trumpet 08th'
53. octave 04 ′
54. Clairon 04 ′
  • Couple
    • Normal coupling: II / I, III / I, III / II, I / Pedal, II / Pedal, III / Pedal
  • Playing aids : Combination steps for tutti, fortissimo, forte, mezzoforte, piano and pianissimo, steps for fortepedal and piano pedal section, combination prolongement, register crescendo and decrescendo device, swell step for III. Manual, tremolo slide for oboe 8 ′ (II. Manual)

Jehmlich organ in the congress hall

In 1946, the city administration also decided to have a two-manual organ with 32 registers installed by the Jehmlich Orgelbau Dresden company in the congress hall, which was used as a provisional facility .

As a result of heavy soiling from the various ways in which the hall was used and technical defects (the organ was made from inferior material shortly after the end of the war), the organ was only used for five concerts. On October 30, 1980 it was performed for the last time at a rights concert of the Gewandhaus.

Schuke organ in the New Gewandhaus

Prospectus of the Schuke organ built in 1981.

In the Neue Gewandhaus , which was built in 1977 , the organ building company Alexander Schuke (then Potsdam) created a concert organ with 89 registers on four manuals and pedal with their Opus 499 . At the time, it was the largest new organ in the GDR, and also the largest work by the Schuke company to date. The slider chests -instrument has been an expansion in 2008 over 91 registers with 6,845 pipes . It is equipped with mechanical (solid game table) and electrical (movable game table) game contractures and electrical Registertrakturen equipped.

The main console is located below the swell or the upper structure above. The main work is on the left, the positive and the pedal work on the right. The pedals are divided into large and small pedals, the latter is in the brochure between the large pedal and the upper section. The positive with its 4 'principal in the prospectus is under the small pedal. Since the largest prospect pipe, the Subkontra E (20.6 Hz) of the Principal 32 ′, with its sounding length of approx. 7.50 m and a total length of approx. 9.6 m already reaches just below the ceiling, the Pipes for the lowest notes C-D flat are built as closed pipes (closed at the top), which manage with half the length of an open pipe. These stand as thick as a tree trunk behind the prospectus in the pedal tower. The disposition allows the reproduction of music of different styles. A special feature is the trumpet work, whose reed pipes protrude horizontally above the console into the room. Such horizontal trumpets are called Spanish trumpets because of their origin .

The organ is over 15 m wide and about 11 m high.

In 1987 the organ was given the final stage it had designed in 1977. The organ building company Otto Heuss in Lich developed a second, mobile gaming table for this purpose. It can be positioned anywhere on the orchestra podium and sends its signals - for the first time in organ building - digitally via an optical fiber .

In 2008 Schuke gave the organ a general cleaning. In this context, the electrics were renewed, two additional registers were installed and the electronics were converted to a computer-aided control system.

I Swell C – a 3
01. Drone 16 ′
02. Wooden principal 08th'
03. Capstan whistle 08th'
04th Viol 08th'
05. Salicional 08th'
06th Beat 08th'
07th octave 04 ′
08th. Night horn 04 ′
09. Fugara 04 ′
10. Hollow fifth 2 23
11. octave 02 ′
12. Forest flute 02 ′
13. third 1 35
14th Fifth 1 13
15th Seventh 1 17
16. Mixture VI
17th Bombard 16 ′
18th Tromp. Harm. 08th'
19th oboe 08th'
20th Clarine 04 ′
II main work C – a 3
21st Principal 16 ′
22nd octave 08th'
23. Reed flute 08th'
24. Pointed flute 08th'
25th Great fifth 5 13
26th octave 04 ′
27. Dumped 04 ′
28. Fifth 2 23
29 octave 02 ′
30th Large mix VIII
31. Small mix V
32. Cornett V (2008) 08th'
33. Trumpet 16 ′
34. Trumpet 08th'
35. Field trumpet 04 ′

Trumpet work C – a 3
36. Horiz. Trumpet 16 ′
37. Horiz. Trumpet 08th'
38. Horiz. Trumpet 5 13
39. Horiz. Trumpet 04 ′
III Upper structure C – a 3
40. Quintadena 16 ′
41. Principal 08th'
42. Dumped 08th'
43. Funnel flute 08th'
44. octave 04 ′
45. Reed flute 04 ′
46. Gemshorn 04 ′
47. Nassat 2 23
48. octave 02 ′
49. Field whistle 02 ′
50. third 1 35
51. Fifth 1 13
52. octave 01'
53. Mixture V
54. Scharff IV
55. bassoon 16 ′
56. shawm 08th'
IV positive work C – a 3
57. Wooden dacked 08th'
58. Quintadena 08th'
59. Principal 04 ′
60. recorder 04 ′
61. Dulz flute 04 ′
62. Sesquialtera II 2 23
63. Pointed flute 02 ′
64. Nassat 1 13
65. Sif flute 01'
66. Scharff V
67. Cymbel III
68. Dulcian shelf 16 ′
69. Krummhorn 08th'
70. Vox humana 08th'
Large cymbal bells
Small cymbal bells
Pedal C – g 1
71. Principal 32 ′
72. Saucer (2008) 32 ′
73. Principal 16 ′
74. Revelation 16 ′
75. Sub-bass 16 ′
76. Salicet bass 16 ′
77. Fifth 10 23
78. octave 08th'
79. Hollow flute 08th'
80. Thought bass 08th'
81. octave 04 ′
82. Pommer 04 ′
83. Peasant whistle 02 ′
84. Reed flute bass 01'
85. Back set IV
86. Mixture VI
87. trombone 32 ′
88 trombone 16 ′
89. Dulcian 16 ′
90. Trumpet 08th'
91. Clairon 04 ′
  1. From E in the prospectus

World premieres

In the first Gewandhaus
In the Konzerthaus (second Gewandhaus)
  • Max Reger : Violin Concerto in A major op.101 (October 18, 1908)
  • Max Reger: Piano Concerto in F minor op.114 (December 15, 1910)
  • Antonín Dvořák : Cello Concerto in A major (completed by Günter Raphael, October 24, 1929)
In the New Gewandhaus


  • Cornelius Gurlitt : Gewandhaus. In:  Descriptive representation of the older architectural and art monuments of the Kingdom of Saxony. 18th issue: City of Leipzig (Part II) . CC Meinhold, Dresden 1896, p. 346.
  • Rudolf Skoda: The Leipzig Gewandhaus buildings. International comparison of concert buildings. Verlag für Bauwesen, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-345-00781-9 (extended new edition by: Rudolf Skoda: Neues Gewandhaus Leipzig. Verlag für Bauwesen, Berlin 1985).
  • Steffen Lieberwirth : The Gewandhaus organs. (Pictures from Leipzig's musical life), Edition Peters, Leipzig 1986, ISBN 3-369-00220-5 .
  • Christoph Kaufmann: We advise against demolition. The Gewandhaus in Leipzig between 1944 and 1968. Published by the Leipzig History Association. Sax-Verlag, Beucha 1996, ISBN 3-930076-41-1 .
  • The New Gewandhaus. How it found its place and got its shape. In: Building in Leipzig 1945–1990. Leipzig 2003, ISBN 3-89819-159-1 , pp. 211-215.
  • Alberto Schwarz: Das Alte Leipzig - Stadtbild und Architektur , Beucha 2018, pp. 149 ff., ISBN 978-3-86729-226-9 .

Web links

Commons : Gewandhaus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Interview with Andreas Schulz (PDF; 291 kB)
  2. From the history of the Gewandhaus Orchestra . In: . Archived from the original on September 7, 2009.
  3. ^ The new Leipzig Gewandhaus , from page 019 in Die Gartenlaube , 1885
  4. Woldemar Hermann; Eckhart Schleinitz (ed.); Michael Schleinitz (Ed.): Diary of my sphere of activity in architecture . Hermann's construction diary from 1826 to 1847. Notschriften Verlag, Radebeul 2006, ISBN 978-3-933753-88-5 , p. 40 f.
  5. Seneca: Epistulae Morales - Epistula 23 - translation . In: .
  6. ^ History. Retrieved January 27, 2020 .
  7. Bauwelt , No. 16/17, 1982, p. 690. Quoted from Hermann Heckmann: Architectural tendencies in both parts of Germany from 1945 to 1980. In: Culture in divided Germany. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1984, pp. 83-108, at p. 106.
  8. Organ on .
  9. portrait Kurt Masur: . In: . Archived from the original on September 18, 2009.
  10. ^ Lieberwirth: The Gewandhaus organs. Pp. 29-31
  11. ^ Lieberwirth: The Gewandhaus organs. P. 62
  13. a b record cover of the LP: "The Schuke organ in the New Gewandhaus in Leipzig", Eterna 8 27 814, recording from 1983
  14. Information on disposition (PDF file).
  15. ^ Lieberwirth: The Gewandhaus organs. P. 116 ff.
  16. On the 2008 renovation

Coordinates: 51 ° 20 ′ 16 ″  N , 12 ° 22 ′ 50 ″  E