As every year, 2014 began with a resounding concert in the halls of the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra. The New Year was greeted ceremoniously with many compositions by Johann Strauss that were brought back to light. Alongside the King of Waltzes, his father and brothers were represented as well as pieces by Joseph Hellmesberger Junior, Joseph Lanner, Léo Delibes, and Richard Strauss were played on the 1st of January.
All of these composers together made for quite a spectacle. I have long enjoyed the Neujahrskonzerts, and this one did not disappoint. I think it is more than anything the pleasure that the orchestra takes in playing the two pieces in the very end — the resounding story of the Radetsky March is always with me when I listen to those notes.
Partly, I think, I enjoy this concert so much since many of the different commentaries are historically aware — and they want to inform. The comments relate stories regarding the composers and the music. As an example from this year, I believe it was the piece from Léo Delibes’ ‘Sylvia’ that was said to evoke a reaction in Pyotr Tschaikovsky to the effect that he would not have written his ‘Swan Lake’ had he heard ‘Sylvia’ before. Could there be greater praise than to have an artist say that their own greatest piece would have been unnecessary if they knew of someone else’s work?
These revelations (and others) are what make Neujahrskonzert enjoyable in ways other than just listening to classical music. A link I would post here is this site (in German) where brief introductions are given to all of the compositions that this year brought to the concert. I do wish I was better at reading German so that I could comprehend that site better — one thing that is definitely lacking to a large degree in English is information on the backgrounds of the plentiful compositions that the Viennese composers created.
Other than that, what else can I say that it will be a pleasure to listen to this year’s music again! And, I am looking forward to the next one!