The concert hall was originally a theatre: It was built at the request of Frederick the Great in the 18th century as a French Comedy House. After a fire, the theatre was rebuilt by Berlin's most famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1821. The house saw many great evenings: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart attended the performance of his opera 'Die Entführung aus dem Serail' in 1789. Schinkel's stage design decorated the opera Undine by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Paganini and Franz Liszt gave guest performances. Richard Wagner conducted the Flying Dutchman.
The theatre was burned to the ground in the Second World War. It was not until 1984 that the theatre reopened as a concert hall. Since then, great conductors and orchestras have performed here. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein conducted Beethoven's Ninth with an international orchestra and transformed the text of the chorus into the Ode to Freedom.