Vienna New Year's Concert

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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.[1][2]

Music and setting[edit]

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.

"Großer Saal" (Large Hall) of the Musikverein

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.[3] From 1980 until 2013 the flowers that decorate the hall have been a gift from the city of Sanremo, Liguria, Italy. In 2014 the flowers has been provided by the Vienna Philharmonic itself. Since 2014 the flowers are arranged by the Wiener Stadtgärten.


There had been a tradition of concerts on New Years day in Vienna since 1838, but not with music of the Strauss family. From 1928 to 1933 there were five New Years´s concerts in the Musikverein, conducted by Johann Strauss III. These concerts were broadcast by the RAVAG.[4] According to Norman Lebrecht, writing for the UK Spectator Journal, the concert had ominous origins. It was created by conductor, Clemens Krauss, with the blessing of Vienna Gauleiter, Baldur von Schirach to improve the moral at the front lines. After World War II, the concert survived, as the Nazi origins have been largely forgotten.[5]

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:


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.


Gustavo Dudamel Mariss Jansons Zubin Mehta Daniel Barenboim Franz Welser-Möst Mariss Jansons Franz Welser-Möst Georges Prêtre Daniel Barenboim Georges Prêtre Mariss Jansons Seiji Ozawa Nikolaus Harnoncourt Riccardo Muti Zubin Mehta Carlos Kleiber Claudio Abbado Herbert von Karajan Lorin Maazel Willi Boskovsky Josef Krips Clemens Krauss

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.


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 (on some hours delay), RSI La 1 in Switzerland, La 1 in Spain, ČT2 in the Czech Republic, and TVP2 in Poland, among many other channels. The concert was again televised by ORF on 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016.

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 (on delay). 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.

Commercial recordings[edit]

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, 2012–2016
Philips Classics Records 1993, 2002
BMG 1996, 1998–1999
EMI 1997, 2000
Teldec 2001

Other New Year's concerts in Vienna[edit]

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.[12]


  1. ^ "Walzerenergie für den Globus". Der Standard (in German). 28 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Neujahrskonzert 2015: Jahr der Jubiläen". Die Presse (in German). 29 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Tanz das Jahr – Das Shooting, Der Standard, 30 December 2013 (German)
  4. ^ Ernst Theis writes about the results of his research about the history of the New Year´s concert.
  5. ^ "The Nazi Origins of Vienna Phil's New Year's Day Concert," by Norman Lebrecht, The Spectator, December 13, 2014,
  6. ^ "Zubin Mehta dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2015", Der Standard, 31 December 2013 (German)
  7. ^ "Mariss Jansons dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2016", ORF, 1 January 2015
  8. ^ "Barenboim dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2014", Der Standard (German)
  9. ^ "New Year's Concert 2011 with Franz Welser-Möst". Vienna Philharmonic. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "Franz Welser-Möst dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2013". Der Standard (in German). 31 December 2011. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "The Vienna Hofburg Orchestra New Year's Eve Concert", Vienna Hofburg Orchestra

External links[edit]