Local Experiences

Philharmonie Concert Hall Prepares to Open Amid Controversy

From concerts and exhibitions to conferences and workshops, the brand new Philharmonie de Paris concert hall promises something for everyone. And, while Paris celebrates another new cultural venue, getting there was far from easy…

Controversial Construction

The intention was to democratize classical music, create outreach programs and play a part in Paris’ goal of extending its cultural venues into the less wealthy north-eastern districts of the city.

But this was extremely unpopular with the existing classical music hall, the Salle Pleyel, sold to the state in 2009 by Hubert Martigny and Carla Maria Tarditi, who were outraged against the government’s decision to move music away from their former venue. “The Salle Pleyel can’t be a branch of the culture ministry.” explained Tarditi “As a musician I won’t allow such amateurism behind a pretext of democratisation.” Those at the current Cité de la Musique weren’t exactly happy either, when they found out that their establishment would essentially become an add-on to the future Philharmonie…

Not only were there raised voices about moving classical music away from Paris’ affluent center, but the architect Jean Nouvel himself has been very vocal about his concerns, even refusing to go to opening ceremony because he deemed the concert hall unready. Back in 2013 he had gone to the President François Hollande to complain about poor pay, mistreatment and bad workers. Relations with the construction company had barely improved by the time of the venue’s inauguration, when Nouvel quoted to Le Monde newspaper: “The architecture is martyred, the details sabotaged”.

With all of the complaints, demonstrations and problems, the project was postponed for twenty years and, once started, it ran two years late. The cost tripled, and has been estimated at $508 million.

That being said, reviews by journalists and visitors have been very positive, complimenting the innovative acoustics, the imaginative interior design and forward-thinking architecture. They also praise the city for its desire to integrate a larger, more diverse crowd of music-lovers within its shiny “spaceship” walls.

The conclusion is: it’s up to you to decide what you think! Have a look at their (English and French) calendar to see what events might tempt you to visit this controversial new symphony hall:

Philharmonie de Paris
221, avenue Jean-Jaurès, 75019 Paris
Metro, bus, tram: Porte de Pantin
The Philharmonie de Paris offers free shuttle service to various locations in Paris after every evening concert or show presented in the Grande Salle (Symphonic Hall) or Concert Hall. This service is provided free of charge throughout the season, except during public holidays and Jazz à la Villette festivals.

Culture vultures listen up! If you love your art just as much as your music, you’ll be excited to know we run tours at the Louvre museum, and you don’t have to queue for hours – you just Skip the Line! Remember how controversial that pyramid was…?

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