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Germany opened a spectacular concert house in Hamburg late Wednesday, accompanied by the strains of Beethoven and Wagner.Billed as a cultural monument ready to rival the Sydney Opera House, the building came in more than six years overdue and at 10 times the initial budget, with a cost to the venerable northern port city of 789 million euros.Earlier Mayor Olaf Scholz defended the project, saying that its sold-out concerts through July and the more than 500,000 visitors who have already flocked to the building suggested the Elbphilharmonie was winning hearts.Scholz insisted that the Elphie – as the two-hall concert house has been nicknamed – would be a building for the people, with diverse events appealing to visitors beyond the well-heeled classical music set.Scholz said the building would embrace the long musical tradition of Hamburg, the birthplace of Brahms and Mendelssohn and the cradle of the Beatles' early stardom, and soon host concerts by the world's top orchestras.
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