"People facing one another, ranged in circles in powerful floating arcs around a soaring crystal pyramid." The architect Hans Scharoun had already written about his vision of an ideal theatre space in 1920. 35 years later this idea led to the main hall of the Philharmonie, a spatial arrangement of three interlocking pentagons presenting the podium of musicians at its centre. The blocks of consolidated audience terraces rise up from the lowest point of the hall, the orchestra podium, almost reaching the tent-like bowed ceiling that also dictates the building's outer appearance.
When it opened in 1963, the Berliner Philharmonie was on the edge of West Berlin but when the Berlin Wall came down it found itself in the new urban centre of Potsdamer Platz. Its unusual, tent-like shape and distinctive yellow colour visible from far away, makes it one of the city's prominent landmarks. Its unusual architecture with its novel approach to concert hall design ignited controversy at first but is now considered a model for concert houses the world over. The adjoining chamber music hall (Kammermusiksaal) is the little brother of the Berliner Philharmonie - both architecturally and musically. As a venue for the many chamber music groups of the Berliner Philharmoniker, it allows the orchestra members to present the many and varied facets of their profession outside of the symphonic concert and is the musical forum for other renowned musicians and ensembles.
Founded in 1882, the Berliner Philharmoniker, one of the world's foremost orchestras, has played in the Berliner Philharmonie since its opening concert under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. The British conductor Sir Simon Rattle has been the chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2002.