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Anneliese Brost Forum, Ruhr

Anneliese Brost Forum Ruhr, Bochum

Concert Venues Of The World

Professional musician Stefan Gawlick travels the world and knows almost every major concert hall around the globe. In this series, he reports on the acoustics and other characteristics of famous venues both in the auditorium and on stage.

Germany’s largest conurbation stretches north of the Ruhr. Over five million people live, work and consume here, and the former problem child of the West has long since written its own success story. Well, everyone knows the big names in Essen, Dortmund and Düsseldorf (just next door), but the story we are going to talk about today has unfolded a little off the beaten track.

Since the beginning, the Bochum Symphony Orchestra has been wandering around without a home, sometimes playing in the Schauspielhaus, sometimes in the Audimax of the university, sometimes in some other, usually less suitable location. The desire for a home of their own was therefore nothing new when this topic came on the table again in the early 2000s. At that time, however, Bochum was on an emergency budget, navigating the various crises that restructuring entails, which meant that the district and state were forbidden from providing funds for a building. This changed when the concept of the concert hall was reimagined as a music center, which could also house the music school (the largest in Germany). This partial rededication allowed access to other funds, and suddenly the federal government and the EU were on board.

The citizens were also to be called on, which is why almost 15 million euros had to come from private donors – and so it did. There are other miracles surrounding this building: for example, the construction of the Anneliese Brost Forum only slightly exceeded the projected cost and the opening took place on the planned date. As I live near Stuttgart, I can only marvel at such magic.

Anneliese Brost Forum, Ruhr

But what is it like now, the great hall? Backstage, because that’s where I always start, everything is perfect. The dressing rooms are on the same floor as the stage, the aisles are wide, the doors are wide. The stage is light and flexible, the feeling of space is excellent, as the mixture of exposure and security is just right. The almost 1100 seats are arranged almost exclusively in front of the orchestra and to the side on two tiers.

While you can hear your colleagues quite well on stage and quickly develop a useful, reliable feeling for the dynamics in the room, the acoustics from the hall are simply magnificent. It is not for nothing that the Ruhr Piano Festival and other event organizers have been quick to book this venue. In order not to cannibalize the existing halls in the area, Bochum has to do without guest performances by the big names and orchestras. However, as they have turned this restriction into a first-class virtue with their collaborations and an exceptionally exciting program concept, there is no sacrifice here, but rather a full bouquet of really good art.

Oh yes, the sound. The Anneliese Brost Forum in Bochum achieves a balance of sonic warmth and transparency that even far more famous halls cannot match. While some halls sound too warm/diffuse or transparent/cold, here you get both. Quiet entries from the double basses have a mellowness and body, while at the same time you can hear the bite of the colophonium. And even with the violins working a few octaves higher, everything is revealed, but not exposed. Congratulations!


The stated retail price of the reviewed device is valid as of the time of the review and is subject to change.