Traditionally taking place in Vienna’s Musikverein concert hall, New Year’s Day celebratory concerts have existed in the Austrian capital since 1838. It was in the mid-20th century, however, that music from the Strauss family became the mainstay of the concert. Surprisingly, before this the event largely ignored Strauss’s music. This was likely because it did not want to be associated with what was at the time considered ‘popular music’. Very gradually, this attitude changed. A large factor in this transition was the great respect major composers such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms held for the Strauss family, together with the orchestra spending time with Johann Strauss Jr. and witnessing his charisma and musical prowess first hand.
Today, this illustrious concert is so popular that to attend the concert at the Musikverein, it is necessary to pre-register for tickets one year in advance! It is broadcast from the Musikverein’s Golden Hall to 50 million viewers.
The concert largely consists of music from J Strauss II, including firm favourites such as the instantly recognisable The Blue Danube as well as a selection of other waltzes, marches, polkas and arias. Each year, we present our version of the concert throughout the South and West of England, this year from Guildford to Exeter and Cheltenham. An enchanting programme, Marta Gardolińska predicts, ‘Glorious melodies, joyful Polkas, the gorgeous voice of star soprano Soraya Mafi and a couple of surprises!’. As a conductor, Marta is most looking forward to, ‘shaping the gracious, elegant themes of the Waltzes and finding the wit in Strauss’s music ’.
Why the New Year?
Marta feels this concert is the perfect way to welcome in the New Year because the ‘over-the-top sweet beauty of the music and slightly cheesy ballet are light entertainment but in good taste. It is very much self-indulgent and idealistic and I think if there is one day in a year when we can allow ourselves to enjoy this, it is the New Year! ’.
This time of year is naturally an occasion to reflect on the year gone by while looking forward to the year ahead, with all its hope, promise and opportunity. The Vienna Philharmonic website reflects this when they state that their concert aims to not only provide beautiful music, but also to ‘send people all over the world a New Year’s greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace.’
New Year Johann Strauss Gala
Marta Gardolińska, Soraya Mafi
Wed 1 Jan Poole, Lighthouse
Thu 2 Jan Exeter, Great Hall
Sat 4 Jan Cheltenham, Town Hall
Wed 8 Jan Guildford, G Live *
Thu 9 Jan Taunton, The Brewhouse
Fri 10 Jan Torquay, Riviera Centre
Sat 11 Jan Weymouth, Pavilion
*Guildford’s performance will feature Rebecca Bottone as soprano in place of Soraya Mafi. The programme is the same for all concerts.
Please see our Christmas Press Release for more details.