Haarlem’s concert building, which stands adjacent to the former location of Joh. Enschedé printers, has undergone a radical metamorphosis. Besides a thorough renovation and restoration of the existing structure it has also been extended, executed in a manner that has achieved a perfect harmony between old and new structures. The building was originally constructed as an association building in 1878, but has served as a concert hall since the early 20th century. It has been transformed into a full-fledged music centre with five auditoria.
The concert hall did not survive the ‘stranglehold’ of 20th century modernism unscathed. The concert hall had degenerated into a labyrinth of bleak spaces due to the drastic removal of the neo-classical ornamentation and countless alterations.
The new music centre has a simple, clear-cut and logical layout. The main hall has been extended lengthwise and the stage has been enlarged. An acoustic that ranks among the best in Europe has been achieved by making the hall deeper, making the balconies into one continuous whole, and restoring classic ceilings and detailing. The new small concert hall seems to float, a structure that ‘hangs’ in the foyer. Its rounded forms and the use of wood lend it an intimate, warm atmosphere. The foyer forms the centrepiece of the building, connecting old and new and providing cohesion between the different spaces. The foyer functions as a ‘marketplace’, where visitors encounter each other. In addition to the main hall for symphonic music and the small hall for modern music, the creation of three classical music salons makes it possible to schedule a highly varied cultural programme.
The glazed façades of the new structure are adorned with a design by Karel Martens that is a graphic rendition of Louis Andriessen’s ‘Klokken voor Haarlem’ (‘Bells for Haarlem’). Andriessen based this composition on the ‘Damiate’ melody, which has rung out from the neighbouring St. Bavo Church for centuries. This contemporary interpretation of musical notation links the Philharmonie with the spot where one of the oldest printers of sheet music in Europe used to be located.