|By Jacob Stockinger
Here is the latest on a popular tradition to kick off the New Year:
The Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Day concert, From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2017,” conducted for the first time by Gustavo Dudamel, will air on Great Performances on PBS stations across the country on Sunday, January 1.
It will air at 10 a.m.-noon on Wisconsin Public Radio, and at 6:30-8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television. (At noon, WPR will broadcast another celebratory work for the New Year: the Madison Symphony Orchestra under John DeMain performing the Ninth Symphony “Choral,” with its “Ode to Joy” finale, by Ludwig van Beethoven,)
For more than 75 years, the Vienna Philharmonic has ushered in the New Year with the light and lively, quintessentially Austrian music of Johann Strauss, his family, and their contemporaries, performed at the Golden Hall of Vienna’s Musikverein.
Since 1987, the concert has featured a different conductor each year, and this year Mr. Dudamel, 35, will be the youngest-ever to lead the popular and festive New Year’s concert.
The Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert is broadcast in over 90 countries and will have an estimated 50 million television viewers, making it the largest worldwide event in classical music.
Among traditional waltzes, polkas and other works, Mr. Dudamel will conduct Strauss’s famous “Blue Danube” Waltz on the occasion of the work’s 150th anniversary, and pieces by Otto Nicolai, founder of the Vienna Philharmonic.
Host Julie Andrews (below) will also take the viewer to picturesque Viennese landmarks, including Otto Nicolai’s study in the Haus der Musik, and will join Mr. Dudamel in visiting the student musicians of Superar, the El Sistema organization for Central Europe. Mr. Dudamel was famously a product of the El Sistema program in his native Venezuela, and this broadcast will offer a special look at these talented musicians of tomorrow.
While the Vienna Philharmonic, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, honors tradition and history with the New Year’s concert, it also looks to the future with the debut of its new concert attire designed exclusively for the orchestra by Dame Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler.
Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic, Andreas Großbauer, recognizes the importance of linking the past and present and uniting practicality with modern elegance. “In the age of video streaming and HD broadcasts, it is increasingly important how an orchestra appears onstage. In Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler, we have found a design duo which suits the high standards of the Vienna Philharmonic brand.”
The new philharmonic suit features an updated design to the traditional garments worn by the orchestra. Customarily, men of the Philharmonic have performed in the Stresemann, a semi-formal suit with striped formal trousers, grey waistcoat and necktie for daytime concerts and a formal tailcoat, striped formal trousers, and white waistcoat and bow tie for evening performances, while the women have chosen their own formal black concert attire.
Vivienne Westwood and her design partner and husband, Andreas Kronthaler, who are known for their nonconformist yet historically inspired fashion, have redesigned and modernized the traditional day and evening suits with contemporary functionally in mind. The designers have also created a first-ever Philharmonic ladies suit for both day and evening concerts.
The new suits are tailored in the traditional cut of Savile Row Bespoke and feature a modern black cutaway jacket, worn in lieu of the tailcoat, paired with the traditional striped trousers and waistcoat.
For day concerts, the men will wear a silver-grey waistcoat and tie embroidered with the Vienna Philharmonic logo, and for evening concerts, a white waistcoat and bow tie inspired by a classic white-tie suit. The ladies suit features a black collarless coat and slim-cut trousers. For day concerts, the suit is paired with a silver-grey top that complements the men’s day suits, and for evening, a black silk top.
Here is a summary and the playlist:
Vienna Singverein Concert Choir
Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor
Julie Andrews, Host
FRANZ VON SUPPE Queen of Spades, Overture (Pique Dame)
C.M. ZIEHRER Right This Way, Waltz – Ballet
OTTO NICOLAI Moon Chorus
OTTO NICOLAI The Merry Wives of Windsor
JOHANN STRAUSS Pepita Polka
JOHANN STRAUSS The Extravagant, Waltz
JOHANN STRAUSS, SR Indian Galop
JOSEF STRAUSS The Nasswald Forest Maiden, Ländler
JOHANN STRAUSS Let’s Dance, Quick Polka – Ballet
JOHANN STRAUSS A Thousand and One Nights, Waltz
JOHANN STRAUSS Tick Tock Quick Polka
EDUARD STRAUSS With Pleasure! Quick Polka
JOHANN STRAUSS On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Waltz
JOHANN STRAUSS, SR Radetzky March
ALERT: The Ear’s friend and radio host colleague Rich Samuels writes: “I’ll be airing the performance of Felix Mendelssohn‘s Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, by the Willy Street Chamber Players (below) on this Thursday morning (Dec. 31) at 7:14 on my “Anything Goes” broadcast on WORT-FM 88.9. (It was recorded July 31, 2015 by WORT at Madison’s Immanuel Lutheran Church). I think this was the high point of the ensemble’s inaugural season. It’s nice to know WSCP will be back next summer and that they have a special event scheduled on Jan. 23 and 24.”
By Jacob Stockinger
Both organizations are outstanding friends of classical music, although sometimes The Ear wishes there was more music and fewer British mysteries — which this year interfere with arts programming and push music broadcasts later.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
On Thursday night from 10 to 11:30 p.m., Wisconsin Public Television will air an all-French program from New York City with Alan Gilbert (below top) conducting the New York Philharmonic and guest soloist mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (below bottom). “Live From Lincoln Center” will broadcast “La Vie Parisienne” (Parisian Life) program includes music by Jacques Offenbach and Camille Saint-Saens.
The Ear likes the program and wonders if it was decided before or after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
However, The Ear is very disappointed by the late hour of the airing. It would be better if young people and children could hear and see it. He would much prefer prime-time broadcasts from 8 to 9:30 p.m. or maybe 9 to 10:30 p.m.
What do readers think?
NEW YEAR’S DAY
On Friday morning from 10 a.m. to noon, Wisconsin Public Radio will air a broadcast from Vienna’s Golden Hall (below) of “New Year’s Concert From Vienna,” with waltzes and polkas by the Strauss family as well as some other music.
This is the 75th anniversary of the event that will be broadcast to more than 90 countries and seen by some 50 million people. It is billed as the world’s largest classical music event.
Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons, who leads the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam and appears regularly with major orchestras around the world, is returning for his third stint as the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic for this program.
Here is a link with more information, which is hard and confusing to find on the website (look under Seasonal Programming, not the regular schedule):
In the afternoon from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and in the evening form 10 to 11:30 p.m., the 32nd annual television version of “Great Performances” will be broadcast by Wisconsin Public Television. Actress Julie Andrews (below) returns to host for the seventh time, and dancers from the Vienna State Ballet will be featured along with great landscape shots of Vienna and its historical landmarks.
And of course there will be the final clap-along encore: The Radetzky March, which you can hear conducted by Daniel Barenboim in a YouTube video at the bottom.
Once again, The Ear recalls that it used to air at a much earlier, more family-friendly hour.
For more information, go to:
Maybe next year will see earlier broadcast times and more information about the programs and broadcast’s duration on the web and the regular radio schedule.
By Jacob Stockinger
Just a holiday reminder.
Today is New Year’s Day. That brings the annual “Great Performances” presentation of the “New Year’s Day From Vienna” celebration — with waltzes, polkas, gallops and more by the Johann Strauss Family – on PBS and NPR (National Public Radio).
It will all be performed in the Golden Hall (below top) by the Vienna Philharmonic with former Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta (below middle) this year, along with the usual help from the Vienna State Ballet and Broadway and Hollywood star host Julie Andrews (below bottom).
And it will be broadcast TWICE today:
ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION (WPT): TONIGHT from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the main channel Channel 21/Cable 600 the program will also be run, with dancers and scenic landscape shots. (The Wisconsin Channel will run it from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) It comes, by the way, after an all-day marathon that starts at 9 a.m. and features all eight episodes of Season Four of “Downton Abbey.” Season Five starts on Sunday night.
A REMINDER: The annual “New Year’s Day Concert From Vienna” (below) with the Vienna Philharmonic under conductor Franz Welser-Most and with TV host Julie Andrews will air this morning on NPR (and Wisconsin Public Radio) at 10 a.m. this morning with the TV version airing tonight on PBS (and Wisconsin Public Television) at 7 p.m. For more information and links to a play list of Strauss family waltzes and polkas plus works by Verdi and Wagner and lots of background, visit:
By Jacob Stockinger
Today, Jan. 1, 2013, is New Year’s Day.
The past year was not an easy year in so many ways.
Especially disappointing is the increasing polarization or partisanship one sees not only in the US but also around the world. I myself fear for the rise of right-wing fanaticism (often signaled by hatred of immigrants, a callousness toward social welfare and the oppression of minorities) in Greece and elsewhere because of economic situations. Economic strife often leads to war or other forms of strife and suffering. (Below is a CNN photo of an austerity protest riot in Greece.)
One can only hope for much better in 2013.
So that makes this “flash mob” performance of Beethoven (below) all the more appropriate and moving. It certainly was an emotional experience for and for the very old friend who sent it on to me — as well as for the more than 8 million viewers so far on YouTube.
It is the perfect piece – or, to be precise, the perfect excerpt of the perfect piece – in words and music — performed in a perfect way that was commissioned by Banco Sabadell in Barcelona to mark its 130th anniversary, I believe.
It gives one hope – especially at a time when Spain, like so many other countries, in undergoing the trials, tribulations and testing of austerity.
Judge for yourself – be sure to look at the facial expressions of the children and the ordinary people who just pass by and stop to take it all in. You can see that great music connects and bonds.
And let us know what you think by leaving something in the COMMENTS section.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear suspects that many of this blog’s readers don’t take Waltz Meister Andre Rieu (below) very seriously as a classical musician. And you can understand why, given all the shmalz, schlock and PBS fundraisers he is known for.
Yet the indisputable fact remains that Andre Rieu — a violinist, conductor and audience-friendly, Lawrence Welk-like showman extraordinaire — is an extremely popular and gifted musician, one of today’s heirs of Johann Strauss.
And there is no denying the classical status of the waltz, a dance that was often used by Carl Maria von Weber, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and so many other major classical composers. And the list grows enormously if you add other dance forms that are close to the waltz in its peasant origins and then in its morphing into an aristocratic dance form, probably perfected in Vienna (below).
And let’s not forget the news peg.
This week, on Tuesday, we celebrate the New Year – the coming of 2013.
That means another audience favorite, that compilation of classical pop hits known as “New Year’s Day From Vienna: 2013” that will air again on National Public Radio (and Wisconsin Public Radio) on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. CST; and then again on PBS TV (and Wisconsin Public Television) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
This year’s version of the famous concert celebration that started in 1939 once again features the Vienna Philharmonic playing in its home, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna (below).
Here is a link with more information including a play list that includes not only the Strauss family (Josef, Johann Sr. and Johann Jr.) but also von Suppe, Verdi and Wagner. 2013 marks the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner.
Here is a link to the radio broadcast notes:
And here is a link to the TV broadcast notes:
And here is Andre Rieu on the power of the many waltzes that will once again captivate a huge worldwide audience:
By Jacob Stockinger
You may recall that a couple of week ago, I posted stories about the Carnegie Hall recital debut to benefit the American Cancer Society (with guest celebrities Donald Trump and Julie Andrew) by 28-year-old Uzbekistan-born pianist Lola Astanova (below), who likes to perform in the latest fashions and who is not shy about promoting herself and her good looks to further her concert career. (That is why she also invites comparison to pianist Yuja Wang.)
Here is a link to that first post:
Then a week later, I posted a number of reviews of that recital. Most of the critics said it was so-so, though a couple were more enthusiastic. Here is a link to that second post:
But subsequently I heard from two listeners who each attended the recital and were there on the spot.
Now, of course, we all know how unreliable eyewitnesses can be, thanks to the many death-penalty reversals secured around the U.S. by The Innocence Project. Eyewitness testimony, and “ear-witness” testimony too, has long known to be notoriously unreliable. So have critics’ assessments and reviews.
Add in the subjectivity of the arts and both the person making the art and the person consuming it, and the question of reliability is compounded.
In any case I want to offer two sides, one pro and one con, from two people who both attended the recital.
You can make up your own mind which one is right, or if the truth lies somewhere in between.
Yesterday, I featured Alexander Grey who wrote at length and thoughtfully to the blog, in two installments.
Here is a different and dissenting or disgreeing review, one that backs up the mainstream viewers, form the blog reader Igor:
People at the concert were NOT experienced concert-goers – quite the opposite, which was very easy to determine: Most of them applauded at the end of each movement of Chopin’s “Funeral March” Sonata.
No, not from enthusiasm.
The audience simply was not informed that the end of a movement is not the end of the piece. Many of them attended a classical concert for the first time, all for different reasons – relation to the American Cancer Society, celebrity names involved, etc.
A lot of people left at the intermission – a fact that was mentioned by few reviewers and newspapers. The concert was listed as “sold out” at the day of performance – but large amount of tickets was just given out as an invitation, with purpose to fill out the hall.
There is an artificial and extremely aggressive attempt to impose this particular pianist as a “star” – even though she does not have any previous credits to put on her bio – no competitions, no significant public performances (the one with Gergiev (below) was a private initiative), no trace of any professional music management company interested or involved.
To give a credit to the girl, I must say that she definitely has personality and courage. Her behavior on stage (below) was, indeed, provocative – yet it had very little connection with what was played at the moment. But she does not SOUND like someone who is interested in music – bling seems to be much more important, and some piano skills just come to serve this goal.
Carnegie Hall can be rented for various purposes, especially for a benefit concert like that. Money can push media exposure. It can even hire a group of people writing good reviews – not in major newspapers like The New York Times, of course.
It takes Horowitz (below) to make a piano sound like Horowitz piano, you know.