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 New Year's Day in Vienna, Austria. It is broadcast live around the world to an estimated audience of 50 million in 73 countries in 2012 and 90 countries in 2015.
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 mainly 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 an interval halfway through the concert 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 direction. In this last piece, the tradition also calls for the conductor to start the orchestra as soon he steps onto the stage, before reaching the podium. The complete duration of the event is around two and a half hours.
The concerts have been held in the "Großer Saal" (Large Hall) of the Musikverein since 1939. The television broadcast is augmented by ballet performances 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, e. g. Schönbrunn Palace, Schloss Esterházy, the Vienna State Opera or the Wiener Musikverein itself. In 2013, the costumes were designed by Vivienne Westwood. Since 1980 the flowers that decorate the hall have been a gift from the city of Sanremo, Liguria, Italy.
What has become an annual "must see" program throughout Central Europe, had ominous origins. According to Norman Lebrecht, writing for the UK Spectator Journal, "the concert came into being as a gift to Nazi war criminals" shortly after the Anschluss. It was created by conductor, Karl Boehm, with the blessing of Vienna Gauleiter, Baldur von Schirach. After World War II, the concert survived, as the Nazi origins have been largely forgotten.
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, dedicated to Maria Anna of Savoy
- 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
- "Perpetuum mobile", ein musikalischer Scherz, Op. 257
- Ouverture to the operetta Die Fledermaus
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.
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.
- Austria Clemens Krauss, 1939, 1941–1945, 1948–1954
- Austria Josef Krips, 1946–1947
- Austria Willi Boskovsky, 1955–1979
- United States Lorin Maazel, 1980–1986, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2005
- Austria Herbert von Karajan, 1987
- Italy Claudio Abbado, 1988, 1991
- Austria Carlos Kleiber, 1989, 1992
- India Zubin Mehta, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2015
- Italy Riccardo Muti, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004
- Austria Nikolaus Harnoncourt, 2001, 2003
- Japan Seiji Ozawa, 2002
- Latvia Mariss Jansons, 2006, 2012, 2016
- France Georges Prêtre, 2008, 2010
- Argentina Daniel Barenboim, 2009, 2014
- Austria Franz Welser-Möst, 2011, 2013
The concert is popular throughout Europe, and more recently around the world. The demand for tickets is so high that people have to pre-register one year in advance in order to participate in the drawing of tickets for the following year. Some seats are pre-registered by certain Austrian families and are passed down from generation to generation.
The event is televised by the Austrian national broadcasting service ORF – from 1989 to 1993, 1997 to 2009, and again in 2011 under the direction of Brian Large – and relayed via the European Broadcasting Union's Eurovision network to most major broadcasting organizations in Europe. On 1 January 2013, for example, the concert was shown on ZDF in Germany, France 2 in France, BBC Two in the United Kingdom, Rai 2 in Italy, La 1 in Spain, and TVP2 in Poland, among many other channels. The concert was again televised by ORF on 1 January 2015.
Outside Europe it is also shown on PBS in the United States (beginning in 1985, as part of the performing arts anthology Great Performances), CCTV in China since 1987, NHK in Japan since 1973, MetroTV in Indonesia, KBS in South Korea, and SBS in Australia, which screens the concert on a slight delay, in the evening at the end of New Year's Day, Australian local time, which is essentially just over an hour after the actual live performance has begun in Vienna. Since 2006, the concert has also been broadcast to viewers in several African countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe). In Latin America the concert is shown in Chile by La Red, and in Guatemala, Ecuador and Bolivia. Indonesia's MetroTV broadcasts the concert although it is delayed by 4 to 5 days.
The concert is also broadcast live by many radio stations in Europe, the United States, and around the world.
Other New Year's concerts in Vienna
The Vienna Hofburg Orchestra's traditional New Year's Eve Concert takes place on December 31 in the 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.