The Meyerhoff's 10th anniversary

September 14, 1992

To mark the 10th anniversary celebration of Joseph Meyerhof Symphony Hall this past Saturday, Baltimore music lovers joined in offering heartfelt thanks to the generosity of the Meyerhoff family, whose support made the project possible, to the architects and builders who brought it to fruition -- and to serendipity, the happy coincidence of science, art and luck that has made the Meyerhoff one of the world's great musical venues.

Baltimore's Meyerhoff Hall has been widely acclaimed for its superb acoustics and stunning appearance. Along with Boston's famous Symphony Hall and the legendary Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, it ranks among the handful of world-class auditoriums that are as close to perfection as human art and science can fashion.

Yet in an age in which science has accomplished so many apparent miracles, it may seem odd that acoustics remains an imperfect science. No one has ever come up with a sure-fire formula for creating the perfect auditorium. A number of halls built over the past 30 years have proved particularly disappointing in this respect. Though acoustics combines elements of physics, engineering, architecture and psychology, in regard to concert halls, at least, the ultimate goal of all these disciplines remains highly subjective: How good does it sound?

In the case of the Meyerhoff, the answer is: glorious. Using a series of convex curves to avoid uniform reflects or concentrations of sound, the hall was constructed without flat walls or 90-degree angles. Suspended from its sloping ceiling are 17 seven-foot-wide convex plastic discs to help further reflect the sound. The walls are covered with 420 tons of plaster that creates both a hard, sound-reflective surface and provides soundproofing to insulate the hall from street noise. These features are set off by additional baffles at various locations around the hall that make the Meyerhoff's interior not only an architectural and decorative gem but also a fine musical instrument in its own right.

We join in saluting the BSO, its musical director, David Zinman, and the thousands of area music lovers whose enthusiastic support has helped make the Meyerhoff such an unalloyed artistic success.

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