Each New Year’s Day, classical music lovers around the world tune in to the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual concert. The orchestra ushers in the new year by charging through an upbeat program full of marches and waltzes from the Strauss family with the help of a notable conductor.
It’s a fun, if largely predictable, spectacle -- which is not to say there aren’t some interesting plot twists this year.
CPR Classical will broadcast the concert from Vienna at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Whether you’re a perennial listener, or you’re toasting the new year with some friends or family who are classical buffs and you’ll be tuning in for the first time, here’s a guide to what’s interesting about the 2014 program.
Daniel Barenboim is back. One of the world’s most famous maestros, Barenboim will take the podium for his second New Year’s Day concert. He’s been music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berlin State Opera and Berlin Staatskapelle, and previously led the Vienna Philharmonic for the 2009 New Year’s Day concert. (Scroll down for the complete performance.)
It’s the 100-year anniversary of World War I. The Great War broke out in 1914 and killed millions across Europe over the next four years. Barenboim selected the "Friedenspalmen" (Palms of Peace) waltz by Josef Strauss for this year’s program to mark the centennial.
The Vienna Philharmonic recently revoked honors it had bestowed upon six Nazi party members before and during World War II. While not directly related to the New Year’s Day concert program, the story grabbed international headlines when Reuters reported it last week. Historians have called the move by the orchestra a worthwhile step forward. But it was also a reminder that the New Year’s Day concert debuted in 1939, a horribly bleak period for Austria and Europe.
There’s an extra Strauss on the program this year. The concert always incorporates pieces from Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss. However, 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss (no relation to the aforementioned Strausses). The orchestra will mark the occasion my playing his “Mondscheinmusik” in the second half of the concert, according to an advance version of the program.
If all this talk about waltzes by the Danube makes you yearn to visit Vienna for the 2015 concert, you can enter a lottery for tickets from Jan. 2-23 on the Vienna Philharmonic’s website. To whet your appetite for the 2014 performance, here’s video of Barenboim conducting the full 2009 New Year’s concert:
The New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna airs from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1, on CPR Classical and cpr.org.