A unique concert hall is opening in Berlin

The first concert starts in

Architecture that evokes the spirit of utopia

Pierre Boulez Saal

Pierre Boulez Saal is an exquisite and architecturally distinct international concert hall and the public face of the Barenboim-Said Akademie. It will enrich the musical life of Berlin with its diverse seasonal programme of up to 100 outstanding chamber music concerts each year.







An exceptional gift

Pierre Boulez Saal was designed by American architect Frank Gehry. The hall’s impeccable acoustics are the work of globally acclaimed acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota. The two have generously donated their services to this project.

Defying gravity

The spatial perspective of the hall is an astonishing feat of architecture. Two elliptical formations are set one above the other in such a way as to create an impression of weightlessness from the tier, seemingly hovering in space.

A multifaceted space

Pierre Boulez Saal is a modular space that can be configured in a variety of ways by reconfiguring its tiers. The architecture blends perfectly with the artistic requirements of the venue, making every concert a completely unique spatial experience as well as a musical one. Spanning 850 square meters, the distance between the conductor and the farthest seat is no more than 14 meters. The concert hall can accommodate up to 620 spectators and creates an intimate atmosphere that perfectly befit a chamber music concert.

A building steeped in history

Both the Hall and the Academy are housed in the former storage building of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera) on Französischer Straße in the heart of Berlin, between the Staatsoper theatre and the Federal Foreign Office building. Designed by architect Richard Paulick, the building was erected between 1951 and 1955 to store the sets of the Staatsoper, and is now a designated landmark building. It sits in the present-day district of Mitte, which formed the centre of the former East Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mitte quickly became a culturally vibrant part of the city. Humbold Universtity and the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) are also nearby.

Facts and figures

About 2,200 cubic metres of concrete and 700 tonnes of steel will form the new structures behind the historic façade of the Academy and the Hall. In addition to a revitalized Pierre Boulez Saal, the renovation adds 21 rehearsal rooms, an auditorium, a library, a cafeteria, offices and other ancillary spaces that fill an area of 6,500 square metres.

A tribute to Pierre Boulez

The concert hall is named for composer, conductor and music theorist Pierre Boulez, who passed away on 5 January 2016. Pierre Boulez was one of the most formidable minds and passionate universalists in the history of music. He enjoyed a lifelong professional friendship with Daniel Barenboim.

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Pierre Boulez owed his vast creative output to an insatiable curiosity and great openness of spirit. From 1945 onward, Boulez made a lasting impression on the world of music, moving it and shaping it like no other artist. His music managed to bridge the unbridgeable; to synthesise seemingly irreconcilable elements. As a composer, he drew inspiration from the world of literature and the great variety of non-European music. As a theorist, conductor, teacher and founder of significant musical ensembles and centres, he was an integral fixture of the Parisian music sphere.

The programme

Chamber music elevated to a new level

An east-west interchange

The concert hall’s very own Boulez Ensemble will share the stage with musicians from other international ensembles to deliver a musically diverse programme that combines outstanding works of traditional chamber music from the 19th and 20th centuries and today, with unique compositions from the Middle East. Regular guest appearances by some of the world’s finest musicians will round out the programme, making for a spectacular blend of the traditional and the innovative, the familiar and the foreign, all on a single stage, in a bold new concert hall. The Pierre Boulez Saal directorship will issue commissions for compositions and organise world premieres.

Artist lineup, concert programme and date of ticket sales soon to be released… Be the first to find out!

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Pierre Boulez Saal

A center of education through music

Pierre Boulez Saal reflects the broad spirit of the Barenboim-Said Akademie, which is housed within its walls. The Academy has been called a place for the “thinking ear,” a place in which the humanist principles of the Academy’s unique brand of musical education are brought to the wider public.

Both the Barenboim-Said Akademie and the Pierre Boulez Saal capture the spirit of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. This unique orchestra – in which young musicians from Middle Eastern nations play side by side – was founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999, as a beacon of hope for greater understanding. It now performs across the world and has won wide international acclaim.

The Barenboim-Said Akademie was founded by Daniel Barenboim in 2012 and will begin training music students from the Middle East in October 2016. Its director is former Minister of State for Culture Michael Naumann. The curriculum combines musical education and the Humanities.

The idea of education through music is the foundation upon which all three institutions are built. As musicians in an ensemble, one learns to listen to one’s own voice as well as the to the voices of others. When this process of listening and understanding happens onstage, the concertgoer, too, is drawn in and participates in the open and live musical dialogue.

More about the Academy

The people behind the project


Daniel Barenboim

Founder of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and president of the Barenboim-Said Akademie

“Great music is the result of concentrated listening. Every musician listening intently to the voice of the composer and to each other.  Harmony in personal or international relations can also only exist by listening, each party opening its ears to the other’s narrative or point of view.”

Daniel Barenboim is the General Music Director of the Staatsoper in Berlin, a post he has held since 1992. He was appointed the same position at La Scala in Milan in 2011.

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He was born in Buenos Aires in 1942. At the age of five, he began piano lessons with his mother, and later also studied piano with his father. Barenboim gave his first public concert at the age of seven in Buenos Aires, and made his international debut as a solo pianist in Vienna and Rome at the age of 10.  As a nine-year-old, he moved to Israel with his family. “The eleven-year-old Barenboim,” said the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler at the time, “is a phenomenon.”

Between 1975 and 1989, Barenboim acted as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris. From 1981 to 1999, he conducted in Bayreuth, Bavaria, and from 1991 to June 2006, he was Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In Chicago, the orchestra members named him honorary conductor, and in Berlin the Staatsoper unter den Linden appointed him a principal conductor for life.

In 2006, Barenboim held the Norton Lectures at Harvard University, which have been published as Music Quickens Time, one of his many books. Along with Edward Said, he co-authored Parallels and Paradoxes. Explorations in Music and Society.

His musical oeuvre has been documented in over 500 audio and video recordings.


Edward Said

Founder of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

“Humanism is the only, and I would go as far as to say the final resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.”

Edward Said was born in 1935 in Jerusalem, raised in Cairo, and studied in the United States, at both Princeton and Harvard. In 1963, he began his teaching career at Columbia University in New York, where he held the preeminent position of University Professor of English and Comparative Literature until his death in 2003.

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Edward Said wrote more than 20 books, which have been translated into 30 languages. His groundbreaking work Orientalism opened up new horizons in the study of post-colonialism. He was active in the editorial committees of numerous magazines and journals and lectured at more than 200 universities across North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

A gifted pianist, Said was also the music critic at The Nation for many years. In the political sphere, he was a major voice on the situation in Palestine and an unflinching proponent of justice and self-determination for all. He was president of the Modern Language Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the American Philosophical Society, an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, and a member of the executive board of PEN International until 1998.

Since Edward Said’s death, his widow Mariam C. Said has been actively involved in the running of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, as the Vice President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA.


Frank Gehry

Architect of the Pierre Boulez Saal

“The Edward Said/Barenboim – Divan Orchestra became a symbol for me of something I believe in very deeply and that is that people of different languages, different cultures, and different politics can ultimately speak to each other through the arts.”

Raised in Toronto, Canada, Frank Gehry moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1947. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California in 1954, and studied City Planning at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In subsequent years, Mr. Gehry built an architectural career that has spanned over five decades, producing public and private buildings across America, Europe and Asia. His work has earned him several of the most significant awards in the architectural field, including the Pritzker Prize

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Notable projects include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, the Eight Spruce Street Residential Tower located in New York City, the Opus Hong Kong Residential, the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the Biomuseo in Panama, the Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building for the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia and the West Campus of Facebook in Menlo Park, California. His current projects include the King Street Development in Toronto, Ontario, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Battersea Power Station Development in London, the Grand Avenue Development in Los Angeles, California, new Facebook campuses in New York City, Seattle, London and Dublin, the Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Sunset Boulevard mixed-use project in Los Angeles, the Ocean Avenue project in Santa Monica and the Los Angeles River revitalization project. Projects currently under construction include the LUMA / Parc des Ateliers in Arles, France, the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, and an extension of the Facebook West Campus in Menlo Park, California.


Pierre Boulez

Composer, conductor, theorist and the Hall’s namesake

“Without curiosity you will shrivel. A composer should always be looking far ahead, looking for something new. He should be a trailblazer.”

Pierre Boulez was born in 1925 in Montbrison, France. As a composer, conductor and teacher, he made a decisive contribution to the development of music in the 20th century, and inspired generations of young musicians with his pioneering spirit. His recordings earned him 26 Grammys and vast numbers of other prestigious awards.

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He first studied mathematics and then music at the Paris Conservatory (CNSM), where his teachers included Olivier Messiaen and René Leibowitz. In 1954, with the support of Jean-Louis Barrault, he founded the Domaine musical in Paris – one of the first concert series dedicated entirely to the performance of modern music – and remained their director until 1967.

Boulez began his conducting career in 1958 with the Südwestfunk Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Germany. From 1960 to 1962 he taught composition at the Music Academy in Basel.
He made his debut at the Bayreuth Festival in Bavaria in 1966, conducting “Parsifal.” It was also here that he conducted the centenary production of “Der Ring des Nibelungen” for the Wagner Jubilee in 1976.

Boulez directed the Cleveland Orchestra as principal guest conductor from 1967-1972, the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1971-1975, and was also principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1971-1977. In Paris, Boulez founded the Institute de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique (IRCAM), acting as its director from 1976 until 1992. He also established the Ensemble Intercontemporain, which he led from 1976-1979. In 2003, Boulez and the director of the Lucerne Festival, Michael Haefliger, together founded the Lucerne Festival Academy, an educational programme for new music.


Yasuhisa Toyota

Acoustician of the Pierre Boulez Saal

“I am thrilled to work together with Frank Gehry and Daniel Barenboim for this unique hall, and to support them in their efforts for the education of young musicians. The result is a beautiful marriage of the architectural “ellipse” and the acoustic “box”.”

Yasuhisa Toyota is one of the world’s finest acoustic designers. He works for Japanese firm Nagata Acoustics, and has headed more than 50 acoustic projects worldwide.

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In 2006 he was commissioned to engineer the acoustics for the Grand Hall of the Elbphilharmonie. Other important concert halls acoustically mastered by Toyota include the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the acoustic refurbishing of the Sydney Opera House, the Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall in St. Petersburg, the Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen, and the New World Center in Miami.

His prominent works in progress include the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, the Radio France Concert Hall in Paris, the Helsinki Music Center Concert Hall, the Vitoria-Gasteiz Concert Hall/Auditorium (Spain), and the Shanghai Symphony Concert Hall.

Michael Naumann

Founding director of the Barenboim-Said Akademie

Carsten Siebert

CFO/COO of the Barenboim-Said Akademie

Ole Bækhøj

Director - Pierre Boulez Saal

The City of Berlin has awarded the Barenboim-Said Akademie a 99-year leasehold contract for the listed building. The Federal Government of Germany is supporting the venture by underwriting construction costs to the amount of 20 million euros and by providing subsidies for the operational budget. The remaining budget, however, is to be covered by private donations.

Federal Foreign Office + Commissioner for Culture and Media + LOTTO-Stiftung


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