It is January 1st, 2012 and I am sitting here, in my living room watching the most popular musical event in the world: Das Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker or, The New Year Concert with the Vienna Philharmonics. Waltzes, Polkas and Marches! Strauss, father and son, Tchaikovsky, and the amazing Wienna Staatballet.
Growing up, this was one of the highlights surrounding New Year’s Celebrations. At 12:00 pm, every 1st of January, the whole family would gather in the living room where the only TV in the house was proudly displayed. My mom, would have had the table set, and for the first hour we all would enjoy her fabulous cooking: salad a la Boeuf, devil eggs, all kind of home made cold cuts, meat balls soup with borscht, roasted duck on a cabbage bed (my dad’s favourite dish) and all sorts of delightful desserts. Then, at 1:00, with a hot Turkish coffee in front, we would listen to the concert.
Every year without fail, mom was fascinated by the number of flowers and the beauty of the arrangements. Dad and I would always waltz on Strauss’ Blue Danube. My brother was the only one going back and forth to the kitchen, running errands or just listening quietly. It was a time I was always looking forward to. Well, truth to be told, I have always loved winter brake with all its colours, smells, happiness and inevitable indigestion.
It is 90 minutes – well or 60 as we get in North America, of uplifting, joyful music and amazing ballet dancers. When did it start? In March 1938 Austria was taken over by the Germans with the quiet approval of England and France. The Austrians were gloom, questioning their future. “In the midst of barbarism, dictatorship and war, at a time of constant worry regarding the lives of members and their families, as well as concern for the autonomy of the orchestra itself, the Philharmonic made an Austrian patriotic statement by performing music comprised exclusively of compositions by the Strauss family. This gesture served as a sublime remembrance of Austria at a time when it had ceased to exist. The concert under the direction of Clemens Krauss took place on December 31, 1939, in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein and enriched Austria’s cultural history with a paradox: the New Year’s Day Concert actually began on New Year’s Eve!”
I hope that 2012 will be a good year, in which class and style will prevail in everything we do as well as in the way we do things!