History of the Salle Playel Concert Hall
The Salle Pleyel is named after the Pleyel piano manufacturer, which is home to the Paris orchestra, and located on the famous Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, this concert hall is now a subsidiary of the Cite de la Musique.
The beginnings of the Concert Hall
It all started when the Pleyel piano manufacturer decided to invest in building a hall that would be purely dedicated to concert music and a vast building was decided upon, close to the Place Charles de Gaulle, which is where you can get to see the Arc de Triomphe.
The Salle Pleyel was designed by the architect Gustave Lion in a modern style for the time and it had a 3,000 seat auditorium, and was inaugurated on 19 October 1927 with a very impressive concert that combined some of the most famous names in music such as Wagner, Stravinsky, Debussy and Ravel.
However, it was less than nine months before tragedy struck when a fire ravaged through the auditorium, and unfortunately the branch of the Maison Pleyel that managed the building never recovered from this financial shock.
The Salle Pleyel concert hall was renovated and reduced in size down to 2,400 seats and became the property of the bank called Credit Lyonnais, who had originally granted the loan for its construction.
The next phase of the Salle Pleyel
The Salle Pleyel gradually picked up and then became the most celebrated concert hall in Paris along with becoming the residence of the Orchestre de Paris, and Igor Stravinsky, who is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, returned to the concert hall in 1957 to direct Agon.
The concert hall continued to be a great success and Otto Klemperer, who is regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, gave his interpretations of Beethoven’s Heroica, plus the Salle Pleyel saw many international musicians such as the incredible Jazz musician Louis Armstrong.
And even though this concert hall in Paris was a great success and continued to enthral audiences, unfortunately the Credit Lyonnais got into financial difficulties and in 1998 the Salle Pleyel was put up for sale.
Later on it was purchased by M. Hubert Martigny who was chairman of the board of IDSH, but then closed down in 2002 for major renovations that were conceived and undertaken by the IDSH society.
The new Salle Playel
Put onto the supplementary list of historical monuments in Paris, the restoration of the facades, the hall and the foyer begun and some of the lost architecture was recovered including the rotunda that was transformed into a vast foyer and now has the original art deco elegance as it used to have.
The great hall was given a more seductive appearance and the comfort of its patrons was greatly improved upon by the installation of completely new chairs and these were reduced in number to only just over 1,900 in order to provide each person with more room.
The balconies were re-terraced to provide better visibility and the first balcony has 400 seats, the second has seating for 300 people and the four side balconies can seat 19 people each.
In addition to these improvements, the lateral walls and the ceiling were completely modified, which resulted in an increase in the reverberation time of around 20 percent, plus the playing area was rearranged to generate more efficient acoustics for better quality of listening for the audience, and to reduce the distance between the musicians and its patrons.
The building that houses the cloakrooms, dressing rooms, recording studio and common rooms was completely rebuilt around a new stairwell that means it can accommodate the needs of large international orchestras with ease.
Plus, there was new stage equipment added with powerful technological aspects including the installation of an entirely mechanised and mobile stage, which means that this could be easily adapted for any kind of repertoire.
And today now, the Salle Pleyel is run by the Cite de la Musique that is located at the Parc de la Villette in Paris, and with its residents, orchestras and guest artists, this concert hall receives masterpieces of the symphonic repertoire.