Concert Halls and Opera Houses

Music, Acoustics, and Architecture

Authors: Beranek, Leo

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About this book

The first question any lover of classical music usually asks an acoustician is, "Which are the best halls in the world?" The response -the three halls rated highest by world-praised conductors and music critics of the largest newspapers were built in 1870, 1888, and 1900- always prompts the next query: "Why are those so good while many halls built after 1950 seem to be mediocre or failures?" You will find answers to these questions in this book, the result of a half-century's research into the very complex field of acoustics of halls for music. 
Following the first chapters, which establish a base for understanding the effects of acoustics on composers, performers, and listeners, and guiding the reader to a common vocabulary, the bullz of this book, Chapter 3, contains the write-ups, photographs, drawings, and architectural details on 100 existing halls in 31 countries. Thirty of the halls are completely new. Although the remainder appeared in earlier books by the author, the materials have been updated wherever necessary. The later chapters present the relation of a hall's acoustics to its age, shape, type  of seats, and the materials used for the walls and ceiling. The sequence of events that led to Boston Symphony Hall's excellent acoustics, which opened in 1900, is covered in detail-although it went through a troubled first few years because the leading local music critic considered the predecessor hall as better. Detailed discussions also appear for balcony, box, stage, and pit designs. All the known electroacoustical measurements on 100 existing halls are examined and compared with the rank orders of 58 concert halls and 21 opera houses that were obtained from interviews and questionnaires. Finally, the optimal electro-acoustical results are presented for concert halls and opera houses used for today's repertoires. Three appendices supplement the chapters: the first gives definitions of all of the major acoustical and architectural terms and symbols used in the book; the second provides the electro-acoustical data available on the 100 halls; and the third presents in tabular form much of the dimensional and electro-acoustical data for the 100 halls. 

Reviews

From the reviews of the second edition:

Advance praise for Leo Beranek's "Concert Halls and Opera Houses: Music, Acoustics, and Architecture" --


PHILIP GOSSETT, PROFESSOR OF MUSIC, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO:
Given the many controversies surrounding the acoustical properties of concert halls and opera houses, it is a relief to be guided by someone who is both a scientist and a devoted listener. Here, the mysteries of acoustics seem less intimidating: we come to understand why music sounds the way it does in various performance spaces, and what we can do about it. It's a terrific book!


I. M. PEI, ARCHITECT, NEW YORK:
[This book] provides an invaluable reference for the understanding and design of music facilities.


JOHN WILLIAMS, COMPOSER AND CONDUCTOR, LOS ANGELES:
Dr. Beranek has created a comprehensive and fascinating study of 100 of the world's halls for music. Visiting each of these venues would be a great delight and a marvelous adventure, but such being impractical, this great book is the next best thing. All lovers of music, acoustics, architecture, and travel will enjoy this unique work.

WILLIAM L. RAWN III, FAIA, ARCHITECT, BOSTON:
The rigor, clarity and comprehensiveness of Concert Halls and Opera Houses, balanced brilliantly by Leo Beranek's personal and subjective sense of acoustics and music, provides a powerful resource for architects and music lovers alike. Beranek's passion for music helps to make this the most significant music acoustics book of our times.

HELMUT A. MUELLER, MUELLER-BBM GMBH, ACOUSTICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS, PLANEGG, GERMANY:
Art and science are combined in Leo Beranek's new book. Presented are carefully collected plans, data and pictures of halls for music, and assessments of their acoustical quality by artists, critics and audiences, as well as measured scientific criteria. It is an easily readable, "must" handbook for anyone traveling to perform or attend concert or opera music.

"The present volume is an astonishing feat by an old gentleman who is still active. … The book explains the intricacies of modern auditorium acoustics, a much more complex science than it had been in the immediate post-WWII era … . There is a detailed bibliography and an excellent index. … This is an easily readable book. Beranek explains the complexities of the acoustical criteria lucidly, and describes the halls concisely, but clearly with the aid of illustrations and data." (Architectural Science Review, Vol. 43 (3), September, 2004)
 

RUSSELL JOHNSON, ACOUSTICS AND THEATER CONSULTANT, ARTEC CONSULTANTS, INC., NEW YORK:
Concert Halls and Opera Houses sets forth the harvest of six decades of intensive study of acoustics for music performance. It is a comprehensive (and indispensable) aid to architects, musicians and design teams who tackle the incredibly daunting task of creating new performance spaces.

HIDEKI TACHIBANA, PROFESSOR OF ACOUSTICS, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO, JAPAN:
This book assembles architectural and acoustical data on 100 spaces for music and rank-orders over two-thirds according to their acoustical quality as judged by musicians and music critics. It gives comprehensive knowledge of room acoustics and offers a basic foundation for acoustical research long into the future.

R. LAWRENCE KIRKEGAARD, ACOUSTICAL CONSULTANT, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS:
Beranek has created a new Rosetta Stone for the languages of music, acoustics, and architecture. Lovers of music everywhere will welcome this extraordinary work for its scope, depth, and ease of reading, and for heightening our understanding and enjoyment of the musical experiences that so enrich our lives.

ROB HARRIS, DIRECTOR, ARUP ACOUSTICS, WINCHESTER, HAMPSHIRE, ENGLAND:
Beranek's latest reference work is an essential volume in every auditorium designer's library. It will also bring information and pleasure to all with an interest in music, acoustics and architecture. In our offices, a common response to a question in an acoustical design session is "Let's check in Beranek...."

CHRISTOPHER JAFFE, FOUNDING PRINCIPAL, JAFFE HOLDEN ACOUSTICS, NORWALK, CT:
CH & OH is the definitive work on the architectural acoustic design of classical music spaces. With presentation of 100 halls, it illustrates various levels of acoustical quality. Written for the lay reader it deserves to be in every school of music, architecture and science and with every musician and music lover.

From the reviews:

"For anyone interested in musical performance or in architecture, this book is a real treasure. After a short introduction to outline the approach and define the acoustical terms involved, the book plunges into a wonderful survey of 100 concert halls in 31 different countries … . The book is elegantly typeset and produced, and will be both interesting reading and a wonderful resource for architects, musicians, and concert goers." (Neville Fletcher, The Physicist, Vol. 41 (4), July/August, 2004)

From the reviews of the second edition:

"One of the most famous books in the field of room acoustics … got a new shape and an extension in the new edition. It again has an outstanding quality in layout and printing. The book is an illustrated guide to performance spaces. It provides a rich source of information on music and its relation to room acoustics. … It is also a document of cultural heritage and a help for musicians … . recommended for everybody interested in music, acoustics and architecture." (Michael Vorländer, Acta Acustica united with Acustica, Issue 3, 2004)

"This new edition (1st ed., 1996) attempts to compare more than a hundred of the world’s most important concert halls, as it takes a closer look at the acoustical properties as well as the architectural shape of each. … It is an invaluable resource for those involved in the design of spaces for the performance of music … . this book would be most beneficial to those with a greater interest in the physics of acoustics. Summing Up: Highly recommended." (R. P. Meden, CHOICE, April, 2004)


Table of contents (5 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-21636-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-387-95524-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $99.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4419-3038-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Concert Halls and Opera Houses
Book Subtitle
Music, Acoustics, and Architecture
Authors
Copyright
2004
Publisher
Springer-Verlag New York
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag New York
eBook ISBN
978-0-387-21636-2
DOI
10.1007/978-0-387-21636-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-0-387-95524-7
Softcover ISBN
978-1-4419-3038-5
Edition Number
2
Number of Pages
XXIV, 662
Additional Information
Originally published by AIP-Press with the title: Concert and Opera Halls
Topics