The first stone for Musikkens Hus was laid on 31 May 2010 but the story about how the house came to life starts back in 1986 when local forces established the association Musikhusets Venner (Friends of Musikkens Hus).
“A house of music would provide exposure and attraction. We wanted to do more in the cultural field for the people who already lived in North Denmark, for those who had just arrived and for those we knew were on their way.”
These are the words of Erik Bach, the first chairman of the association Musikhusets Venner, established on 10 March 1986. The purpose of the association is to “promote the establishment of a house in Aalborg that has its focal point in the needs of the local music life”, says the articles of association.
Musikhusets Venner work determinedly to realise the dream of a house of music; however, a lot of work had to be done before the first stone was laid in 2010.
Research and Education Consolidate Musikkens Hus
In 1999, the dream of a house of music comes to a stalemate. But when the Vice-Chancellor of Aalborg University, Sven Caspersen, and Vice-Rector of the Royal Academy of Music North Denmark, Peter Wang, during a tennis match come up with the idea of establishing a research and educational unit in Musikkens Hus, new life is breathed into the project.
They present the idea to Mayor Henning G. Jensen, County Mayor Orla Hav and CEO at Aalborg Congress and Culture Centre Ernst Trillingsgaard, who in 2000 give the political go-ahead on building a house of music with an educational unit on the waterfront of Aalborg.
The idea also catches on in the local business community where especially Spar Nord Fonden and the Obel Family Foundation announce their support. The CEOs of the two foundations, Ole Jørgensen and Ole Sørensen, together with N.K. Strøyberg establish the Committee for the Construction of Musikkens Hus in North Denmark.
From 2001 to 2006, Musikhusets Venner and the Committee for the Construction of Musikkens Hus in North Denmark raise private funds of a total of DKK 57 million – the amount which City of Aalborg and then County of North Denmark had stipulated in order to support the project. At the same time, a collaboration with Realdania, which will prove pivotal at a later point, is established, and in the spring of 2001, Realdania donates DKK 5 million to the project.
The Architect Is Found
In May 2002, Musikkens Hus invites 12 pre-selected consultancy groups to a project competition, and in November of the same year, three architect groups are shortlisted for the finals. Coop Himmelb(l)au is announced winner with their project, dubbed “The Golden Shrimp”.
The Project Faces Problems
“The Golden Shrimp” runs into trouble. In 2006, as the construction is announced for competitive bidding, it turns out that Musikkens Hus cannot be completed within the scheduled financial framework. Consequently, the developers at the time, the Foundation Musikkens Hus in North Denmark and the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education decide to put the project on standby.
However, the dream of a world-class house of music lives on in the many passionate people who are involved in the project. Shortly before Christmas 2006, the project re-emerges.
Realdania Saves Musikkens Hus
The miracle came from Realdania, and 20 December 2006 is the date that will be written into the history of Musikkens Hus as the “Big Rescue Day” – the day when Realdania offers to supply the financial resources necessary and to take main responsibility for realising the construction of Musikkens Hus in Aalborg.
Musikkens Hus Today
Musikkens Hus is taken into use during the summer of 2013 where Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Music Aalborg, Aalborg University’s music programs, Center for Danish Jazz History, Musikkens Spisehus and Musikkens Hus’ own business activities will move in.
Musikkens Hus’ concert halls will open on 29 March 2014.
If you would like to learn more about the story behind Musikkens Hus, you can read the whole story about how dreams became great opportunities for the music life of North Denmark in the book “The Dream and the Drive – 25 Years with Musikhusets Venner”.