Vienna New Year's Concert


Vienna New Year's Concert

The New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic (German: Das Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker) is a concert of classical music that takes place each year in the morning of January 1 in Vienna, Austria. It is broadcast around the world to an estimated audience of 50 million in 72 countries (as of 2010).[1]

Contents

Music and setting

The music always includes pieces from the Strauss family—Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss—with occasional additional music from other mostly Austrian composers, including Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr., Joseph Lanner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Nicolai (the Vienna Philharmonic's founder), Emil von Reznicek, Franz Schubert, Franz von Suppé, and Karl Michael Ziehrer. In 2009, music by Joseph Haydn was played for the first time: the 4th movement of his "Farewell" Symphony to mark the 200th anniversary of his death. There are traditionally about a dozen compositions played, with a pause at the half and encores at the end. They include waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, and marches. Of the encores, the first is often a fast polka. The second is Johann Strauss II's waltz The Blue Danube, whose introduction is interrupted by applause of recognition and a New Year greeting from the musicians to the audience. The last is Johann Strauss I's Radetzky March, during which the audience claps along under the conductor's wry direction. The complete duration of the event is around two and a half hours.

"Großer Saal" (Large Hall) of the Musikverein

The concerts have been held in the "Großer Saal" (Large Hall) of the Musikverein since 1939. The orchestra is joined by pairs of ballet dancers in selected pieces during the second part of the programme. The dancers come from the Vienna State Opera Ballet and dance at different famous places in Austria, as Schönbrunn Palace, Schloss Esterházy, the Vienna State Opera or the Wiener Musikverein itself. Since 1980 the flowers that decorate the hall have been a gift from the city of Sanremo, Liguria, Italy.

History

The concert was first performed in 1939, and conducted by Clemens Krauss. For the first and only time, the concert was not given on New Year's Day, but instead on December 31 of that year. It was called then a special, or extraordinary concert (Außerordentliches Konzert). Johann Strauss II was the only composer performed. The program of that first concert follows:

  • "Morgenblätter", Op. 279, waltz
  • "Annen-Polka", Op. 117
  • Csárdás from the opera Ritter Pázmán
  • "Kaiser-Walzer", Op. 437
  • "Leichtes Blut", Polka schnell, Op. 319
  • "Ägyptischer Marsch", Op. 335
  • "G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald", Walzer, Op. 325
  • "Pizzicato-Polka"
  • "Perpetuum mobile", ein musikalischer Scherz, Op. 257
  • Ouverture to the operetta Die Fledermaus

Encores

There were no encores in 1939, and sources indicate they did not begin until 1945. Clemens Krauss almost always included "Perpetuum mobile" either on the concert or as an encore. Surprisingly, the waltz The Blue Danube was not performed until 1945, and then as an encore. The Radetzky March was first performed in 1946, as an encore. Until 1958 these last two pieces were often but not always given as encores. Since that year their position as twin encores has been inviolable tradition, with two exceptions: in 1967 Willi Boskovsky made the Blue Danube part of his concert program and in 2005 Lorin Maazel concluded the program with the Blue Danube, omitting the Radetzky March as a mark of respect to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Conductors

Boskovsky, concertmaster of the orchestra 1936–1979, conducted the Vienna New Year's concerts from 1955–1979. In 1980, Lorin Maazel became the first non-Austrian conductor of the concert. The practice of choosing a different star conductor every year (and occasional star soloists) began in 1987 after seven appearances in a row by Maazel. Members of the orchestra voted to rotate conductors. This may have occurred with the telecasts going worldwide, perhaps to make the audio and video recordings more marketable. The first of these rotating stars was Herbert von Karajan, an Austrian, then 78 and in frail health.

Audience

The concert is popular throughout Europe, and more recently around the world. The demand for tickets is so high that people have to preregister one year in advance in order to participate in the drawing of tickets for the following year. Indeed, many seats are reserved by some Austrian families and passed down from generation to generation.

The event is broadcast —from 1989 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 2009 and in 2011 under the direction of Brian Large— by the Eurovision network which includes most major networks around Europe (including BBC Two in the United Kingdom). It is also broadcast on PBS in the United States (beginning in 1985), TVE in Spain, NOS in the Netherlands, BNT in Bulgaria, RTS in Serbia, HRT in Croatia, BHT in Bosnia and Herzegovina, RTK in Kosovo, RTCG in Montenegro, TVR in Romania, CCTV in China, NHK in Japan, SBS in Australia. Since 2006, the concert has been broadcast to viewers in several African countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe). In Latin America the concert is broadcast in Chile by La Red, and also in Ecuador and Bolivia. Austria's ORF Ö1 channel also broadcast the concert on the radio.

Commercial recordings

Decca Records made the first of the live commercial recordings, with the January 1, 1979 digital recording (their first digital LP releases) of the 25th anniversary of the New Year's Concert with Willi Boskovsky conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

Recording label Years recorded
Decca Records 1979, 2008–2011
Deutsche Grammophon 1980–1988, 1991, 2003–2007
Sony Classical Records 1989–1990, 1992, 1994–1995
Philips Classics Records 1993, 2002
BMG 1996, 1998–1999
EMI 1997, 2000
Teldec 2001

More New Year's Concerts in Vienna

The Vienna Hofburg Orchestra's traditional New Year's Eve Concert takes place on December 31 in the magnificent halls of the Hofburg Palace. The program features the most famous waltz and operetta melodies by Johann Strauss, Emmerich Kálmán, Franz Lehár and opera arias by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

References

External links

Recordings


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