This article was translated by John R. Bopp

The Elba Philharmonic Building, the spectacular concert hall complex in Hamburg, has just had its grand opening, as we’ve been told by the Mexican daily Vanguardia.

There are two things that have really caught our attention in this extensive article about this new building dedicated to music.

Firstly, the Hamburg tourism office is hoping that this new building will have an effect similar to the one the Guggenheim Museum had in Bilbao.  That’s obvious.  As we normally do in this blog, we would recommend they look at the urban transformation of Bilbao in context, as Bilbao’s is very different to Hamburg’s.  Also, as we’ve said before, it’s never a good idea to expect an iconic building, in and of itself, to radically change a city’s relative position on the world stage, especially if we’re talking about a city like Hamburg.

The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, finished on time and on budget.  Photo courtesy Tanama Tales
The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, finished on time and on budget.  Photo courtesy Tanama Tales

Secondly, what really grabbed our attention, and inspire the entry’s title, are the data about the construction progress.   Here, no comparisons can be made with the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, despite this comparison perhaps being the most interesting one.  The concert hall should have opened seven years ago, in 2010.  Moreover, its total cost is ten times greater than was initially calculated: the project started out at €77 million, but skyrocketed to €789 by the time all was said and done.  In contrast, the Bilbao Guggenheim was finished on time and on budget.

When we hear certain politicians and intellectuals always repeating that we should take note of what they’re doing in “northern Europe”, we imagine they’re not referring to this example, just as we shouldn’t always rush to copy American efficiency, as the case of the Bilbao Guggenheim’s younger-older brother, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, shows.

The desire to achieve ever greater heights of excellence is a necessary and laudable goal, but there are times when we get the impression that success when countries or cities bet big bothers those who are always against everything–everything they didn’t come up with themselves.

We really do have a lot to learn from others, but we also have a lot to teach, and we should be proud of that.  Perhaps we need to stop being so much like Cain and start being more confident in ourselves as a society, and admit to ourselves that for many, we are a role model; indeed, perhaps we need to learn how to love ourselves a little more.

Vanguardia – 9/1/2017 – México

La música comienza a sonar en la Filarmónica del Elba

La larga espera llega a su fin para la flamante Filarmónica del Elba, el espectacular complejo de salas de conciertos de Hamburgo que comenzará a llenarse de música a partir del miércoles con un festival con la participación de orquestas de renombre internacional. El edificio de cristal erigido en forma de una gran ola sobre un antiguo almacén portuario se ha convertido en el nuevo símbolo de esta ciudad del norte de Alemania, que aspira a hacerse un nombre como meca de los amantes de la música y la arquitectura como lo hizo Sydney con su ópera o Bilbao con el museo Guggenheim.

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