This is going to be my second behind the image story. It’s true, I’m just about to look through my old images to pick out those that might be interesting to write about. This time I want to tell you about a trip to Leipzig visiting the Gewandhaus, a famous venue for classical music. I was visiting the city for just a couple of days back in 2018.
1/33, f/1.8, ISO 25, 3.99 mm, iPhone 7
This image was taken in the atrium of the Gewandhaus. There’s a huge painting on the skewed ceiling which is over 700 square meter in size and comes with a height of over 30 meters. The painting was done by Sighard Gille in 1980 to 1981. It’s considered to be the largest painting in Europe and is called Gesang vom Leben or Song of Life. You might remember that Leipzig was part of the GDR until the German reunification in 1989.
This current building of the Gewandhaus is actually the third one. The first one, where the actual name “Gewandhaus” comes from, was a reused cloth hall. The second one was a new building designed by Martin Gropius in 1882 to 1884 and later served as a role model for the Symphony Hall in Boston. Finally the current third Gewandhaus was built from 1977 to 1981 by Rudolf Skoda as the only concert hall of the GDR. Kurt Masur was the driving force that made this happen.
We went there to listen to a organ concert during the Bachfest. The organ’s frontispiece proclaims the motto Res severa verum gaudium or True pleasure is a serious affair which is attributed to Seneca and part of the history of all three “Gewandhouses”. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun and actually I’m not a fan of the motto, at least not in context with music.
I actually enjoyed being there. The atrium and the whole building is still full of nostalgia of the late 70s. The layout of the different floors is very complex and built around the exterior walls of the central concert hall. The space is lit by natural light coming in through huge windows. There’s a wonderful view from above over the Augustusplatz. And the whole interior space is covered by this huge painting hovering over your head. I love the way the painting is connected to the supporting wall structures, columns and individually skewed ceilings. Even the muted blue color is a perfect fit.
Whenever you visit Leipzig be sure to also see the opera. This building is also executed during the years of the GDR. It’s from 1960s already and its wooden interior feels marvellously elegant and luxurious. It’s really designed from top to bottom, all driven by the same idea. And it’s still unspoiled by later decades. Be sure to have a look.