The Palau de la Música Catalana is the Most Beautiful Concert Hall in Europe:
Few concert halls are as exuberant as Barcelona’s century-old Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music). Said to be the most beautiful concert hall in Europe, the Palau Musica has the UNESCO World Heritage stamp of approval as a unique piece of architecture.
The Palau de la Música Catalana was inaugurated in 1908. Conceived and designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner (a contemporary and follower of Gaudí), the concert hall features an enormous glass box crowned with a large central skylight. This 2,200-seat concert hall is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light.
The architectural decoration in the concert hall is a masterpiece of creativity and imagination and the auditorium explodes with vibrant color and ornamentation. Yet, everything has been carefully considered for the purpose of the building, which is the presentation of music. In spite of the profusion of glass and ceramics, the acoustics are still outstanding.
A Catalan National Symbol
The Palau de la Música is more than a concert hall. To the Catalonians, it is a national symbol and one of Barcelona’s shrines to the Modernist architectural movement that sprang up in the city at the turn of the 20th century. The concert hall was built for the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891, but was primarily funded by donations from the city’s rich. The Orfeó Català was a leading force in the Catalan cultural movement that came to be known as the Renaixença (Catalan Rebirth). As the theatre’s rich patrons became ever more sympathetic to the Renaixença, they encouraged Montaner to build a uniquely Catalan building as an expression of their Nationalist sympathies. Local craftsmen and artisans were engaged to create the vivid ornamentation and sculpture which decorates the entire building.
The Palau de la Música is in the section of old Barcelona known as La Ribera. Next to the rather dull buildings in the area, the flamboyant Palau Musica stands out.
The Foyer area is open to the public and also serves as a rest area during concert intermissions. The concert hall stage, with its huge pipe organ, reminds of a cathedral. Those with more subdued tastes might think that the design is a bit over the top as here, in an explosion of colours, you’ll see colourful stained glass, ornate carved valkyries, busts of Beethoven, carved trees and idyllic singing youths.
Famous Names at the Palau Musica
Over the years, the Palau Musica has attracted the best in the music world, including Richard Strauss, Ravel, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, pianist Arthur Rubenstein, cellist Pau Casals, Rostropovich, Karajan and Leonard Bernstein. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and many others have graced the stage of the Palau de la Música.
The Palau runs daily guided tours (www.palaumusica.org/) of the Modernist Concert hall and, when available, Lluís Millet Hall and the Chamber Music Hall. But the ultimate experience would be to attend a music performance in this magnificent concert hall, which was after all designed specifically for music. See what’s on at the Palau Musica and book tickets online.
Palau de la Música
C. del Palau de la Música, 2
08003 Barcelona, Spain
Getting to Palau de la Musica:
Buses: Lines 17, 19, 40 and 45
Metro: Lines I and IV. Urquinaona station
Map of Barcelona: