Vienna New Year's Concert

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Vienna New Year's Concert
Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker
Wien - Haus des Wiener Musikvereins (2).JPG
Musikverein concert hall
GenreMusic event
Date(s)1 January
Years active1939, 1941–present
Inaugurated31 December 1939; 81 years ago (1939-12-31)
Organised byMusikverein

The Vienna New Year's Concert (Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker) is an annual concert of classical music performed by the Vienna Philharmonic on the morning of New Year's Day in Vienna, Austria. The concert occurs at the Musikverein at 11:15. The orchestra performs the same concert programme on 30 December, 31 December, and 1 January but only the last concert is regularly broadcast on radio and television.

Music and setting[edit]

The concert programmes always include pieces from the Strauss family—Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss. On occasion, music principally of other Austrian composers, including Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., Joseph Lanner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Nicolai (the Vienna Philharmonic's founder), Emil von Reznicek, Franz Schubert, Carl Zeller, Carl Millöcker, Franz von Suppé, and Carl Michael Ziehrer has featured in the programmes. In 2009, music by Joseph Haydn was played for the first time, where the 4th movement of his "Farewell" Symphony marked the 200th anniversary of his death. Other European composers such as Hans Christian Lumbye, Jacques Offenbach, Émile Waldteufel, Richard Strauss, Verdi, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky have been featured in recent programmes. In 2020, music by Ludwig van Beethoven was played for the first time to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth.

The announced programme contains approximately 14-20 compositions, and also three encores. The announced programme includes waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, and marches. Of the encores, the unannounced first encore 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's greeting from the conductor and orchestra to the audience. The final encore 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.

"Goldener Saal" (Golden Hall) of the Musikverein

The concerts have been held in the "Goldener Saal" (Golden 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 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.[1] From 1980 until 2013, the flowers that decorated the hall were a gift from the city of Sanremo, Liguria, Italy. In 2014, the orchestra itself provided the flowers. Since 2014, the flowers have been arranged by the Wiener Stadtgärten. In 2017, the orchestra performed for the first time in new attire designed by Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler.[2]


There had been a tradition of concerts on New Year's Day in Vienna since 1838, but not with music of the Strauss family. From 1928 to 1933 there were six New Year's concerts in the Musikverein, conducted by Johann Strauss III. These concerts were broadcast by the RAVAG.[3] In 1939, Clemens Krauss, with the support of Vienna Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach, devised a New Year's concert which the orchestra dedicated to Kriegswinterhilfswerk ('Winter War Relief'), to improve morale at the front lines.[4] After World War II, this concert survived, as the Nazi origins were largely forgotten, until more recently.[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 31 December of that year. It was called then a special, or 'extraordinary' concert (Außerordentliches Konzert). Johann Strauss II was the only composer performed, in a modest program:


There were no encores in 1939, and sources indicate that encores were not instituted until 1945. Clemens Krauss almost always included "Perpetuum mobile" either on the concert or as an encore. 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 become inviolable tradition, with two exceptions:

  • In 1967, Willi Boskovsky made the Blue Danube part of his concert program to commemorate the work's centenary; its encore position was occupied by Johann Strauss II's Unter Donner und Blitz, polka schnell, Op. 324. Additionally, an actor impersonating the composer of the work appeared during the concert.
  • In 2005, Lorin Maazel and the orchestra 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. One unannounced encore, a gallop or polka schnell, is always placed before the Blue Danube, and after the final announced work on the printed concert programme.


Daniel BarenboimRiccardo MutiAndris NelsonsChristian ThielemannRiccardo MutiGustavo DudamelMariss JansonsZubin MehtaDaniel BarenboimFranz Welser-MöstMariss JansonsFranz Welser-MöstGeorges PrêtreDaniel BarenboimGeorges PrêtreZubin MehtaMariss JansonsLorin MaazelRiccardo MutiNikolaus HarnoncourtSeiji OzawaNikolaus HarnoncourtRiccardo MutiLorin MaazelZubin MehtaRiccardo MutiLorin MaazelZubin MehtaLorin MaazelRiccardo MutiCarlos KleiberClaudio AbbadoZubin MehtaCarlos KleiberClaudio AbbadoHerbert von KarajanLorin MaazelWilli BoskovskyClemens KraussJosef KripsClemens KraussClemens Krauss

Boskovsky, concertmaster of the orchestra from 1939 until 1970, directed the Vienna New Year's concerts from 1955 to 1979. In 1980, Lorin Maazel became the first non-Austrian conductor of the concert. The orchestra subsequently changed practice, to choose a different conductor every year. The first such choice was Herbert von Karajan, for the 1987 concert.


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.

Map of the countries in which the New Year Concert 2019 of the Vienna Philharmonics was distributed via TV in 2019

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 Één and La Une in Belgium, 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, RTP1 in Portugal, and TVP2 in Poland, among many other channels. The concert was again televised by ORF on 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016. Estimated audience numbers are ~50 million, in 73 countries in 2012, 93 countries in 2017 and 95 countries in 2018.[17][18][19]

Outside Europe, the concert is also shown on PBS in the United States (beginning in 1985, as part of the performing arts anthology Great Performances, in abridged form), CCTV in China since 1987 (being telecast live since 1989, except in 1990)[20] while also being broadcast live by CNR in China since 2013,[21] NHK in Japan since 1973, MetroTV in Indonesia, KBS in South Korea, and SBS in Australia (until 2018, 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 four to five days. The concert was broadcast for the first time in Mongolia, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago in 2010.[22]

In 2021 the Vienna New Year's Concert took place without an audience, for the first time in the concert's history, because of public-health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.[23]

Commercial recordings[edit]

Decca Records made the first of the live commercial recordings, with the 1 January 1979 digital recording (their first digital LP releases) of the 25th time (and 24 years = 1979–1955) of the New Year's Concert with Willi Boskovsky conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

Recording label Years recorded
Decca Records 1975, 1979, 2008–2011
Deutsche Grammophon 1980–1983, 1987–1988, 1991, 2003–2007
Sony Classical Records 1989–1990, 1992, 1994–1995, 2012–2021
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 31 December in the halls of the Hofburg Palace. The program features waltz and operetta melodies by Johann Strauss, Emmerich Kálmán, Franz Lehár and opera arias by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


  1. ^ Tanz das Jahr – Das Shooting, Der Standard, 30 December 2013 (in German)
  2. ^ Michael Cooper (29 December 2016). "A New Year, and New Duds, for the Vienna Philharmonic". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  3. ^ Germany,, Dresden (15 February 2016). "Ernst Theis". Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  4. ^ "31. Dezember 1939 – Erstes Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker". WDR. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  5. ^ Harald Walser (29 December 2015). "Das Neujahrskonzert und so manch unhaltbare Legende". Die Presse. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Zubin Mehta dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2015". Der Standard. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra". Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Mariss Jansons dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2016", ORF, 1 January 2015
  9. ^ "Barenboim dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2014". Der Standard. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Barenboim wird 2022 zum dritten Mal Neujahrskonzert leiten". Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (in German). 1 January 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  11. ^ "New Year's Concert 2011 with Franz Welser-Möst". Vienna Philharmonic. Archived from the original on 21 November 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Franz Welser-Möst dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2013". Der Standard (in German). 31 December 2011.
  13. ^ "Dudamel leitet Neujahrskonzert 2017" [Dudamel Conducts New Year's Concert 2017]. Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (in German). Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  14. ^ Stefan Ender (1 January 2018). "Christian Thielemann dirigiert 2019 erstmals das Neujahrskonzert". Der Standard. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  15. ^ Clarke, Kevin (31 December 2019). "De-Nazifying The "Radetzky March" At The 2020 Vienna New Year's Concert". Operetta Research Center. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  16. ^ O'Brien, Megan (31 December 2019). "How to watch Andris Nelsons conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's iconic New Year's concert". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Walzerenergie für den Globus". Der Standard (in German). 28 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  18. ^ "Neujahrskonzert 2015: Jahr der Jubiläen". Die Presse (in German). 29 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  19. ^ "Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker 2018: ORF überträgt zum 60. Mal live im TV". Austria Press Agency (in German). 1 January 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  20. ^ 曹利群 [Cao Liqun] (31 December 2018). 直播新年音乐会的那些事儿 [Live, the New Year's Concerts]. Tencent (in Chinese). Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  21. ^ 张艺龄 [Zhang Yiling] (2016). 广播电台跨国合作的意义探析 [Analysis of the Transnational Cooperation of Radio Stations]. Baidu. 3 (2016年第03期) (in Chinese). China Radio International (中国广播). Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Vienna's New Year's concert now heard even in ... Mongolia". The Independent. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Neujahrskonzert 2021 ohne Publikum, 2022 mit Barenboim". Der Standard. 1 January 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2021.

External links[edit]