Art: Symphony in the Round

Symphony audiences have traditionally had to face the music from the loud end of the horn; most concert halls put the orchestra on a stage and send the sound through a proscenium arch. German Architect Hans Scharoun, 70, the cigar-puffing, beret-topped president of West Berlin's Academy of Arts, believes that this is thoughtless imitation of the theater or the opera. He had observed that listeners at jamfests naturally circled around the musicians, and wanted to test his idea that "the natural location of music, spatially and optically, is in the center of a music hall."

His test, which cost $4,125,000, is the...

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