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The Vienna New Year's Concert (Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker) is a concert of classical music performed by the Vienna Philharmonic that takes place each year in the morning of New Year's Day in Vienna, Austria, and is regarded by many as the most important classical concert worldwide.[not verified in body] It was broadcast live around the world to an estimated audience of more than 50 million in 73 countries in 2012 and 93 countries in 2017.[1][2]

Vienna New Year's Concert
Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker
Wien Musikverein 2004.jpg
Status Active
Genre Music event
Date(s) 1 January
Frequency Annual
Location(s) Vienna
Country Austria
Inaugurated 31 December 1939; 77 years ago (1939-12-31)
Organised by Vienna Music Association


Music and settingEdit

The music always includes pieces from the Strauss family—Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss and Eduard Strauss—with occasional additional music from other mainly Austrian composers, including Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., Joseph Lanner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Otto Nicolai (the Vienna Philharmonic's founder), Emil von Reznicek, Franz Schubert, Franz von Suppé, and Karl Michael Ziehrer. In 2009, music by Joseph Haydn was played for the first time: the 4th movement of his "Farewell" Symphony to mark the 200th anniversary of his death. There are traditionally about a dozen compositions played, with an interval halfway through the concert and encores at the end. They include waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, and marches. Of the encores, the first is often a fast polka. The second is Johann Strauss II's waltz The Blue Danube, whose introduction is interrupted by applause of recognition and a New Year greeting from the musicians to the audience. The last is Johann Strauss I's Radetzky March, during which the audience claps along under the conductor's direction. In this last piece, the tradition also calls for the conductor to start the orchestra as soon he steps onto the stage, before reaching the podium. The complete duration of the event is around two and a half hours.

"Goldener Saal" (Golden Hall) of the Musikverein

The concerts have been held in the "Goldener Saal" (Golden Hall) of the Musikverein since 1939. The television broadcast is augmented by ballet performances in selected pieces during the second part of the programme. The dancers come from the Vienna State Ballet and dance at different famous places in Austria, e. g. Schönbrunn Palace, Schloss Esterházy, the Vienna State Opera or the Wiener Musikverein itself. In 2013, the costumes were designed by Vivienne Westwood.[3] From 1980 until 2013, the flowers that decorated the hall were a gift from the city of Sanremo, Liguria, Italy. In 2014, the flowers were provided by the Vienna Philharmonic itself. Since 2014, the flowers have been arranged by the Wiener Stadtgärten.

In 2017, the orchestra performed for the first time in new attire designed by Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler.[4]


There had been a tradition of concerts on New Year's Day in Vienna since 1838, but not with music of the Strauss family. From 1928 to 1933 there were five New Years´s concerts in the Musikverein, conducted by Johann Strauss III. These concerts were broadcast by the RAVAG.[5] In 1939, Clemens Krauss, with the support of Vienna Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach, devised a New Years' concert which the orchestra dedicated to Kriegswinterhilfswerk ('Winter War Relief'), to improve morale at the front lines.[6] After World War II, this concert survived, as the Nazi origins were largely forgotten, until more recently.[7]

The concert was first performed in 1939, and conducted by Clemens Krauss. For the first and only time, the concert was not given on New Year's Day, but instead on 31 December of that year. It was called then a special, or extraordinary concert (Außerordentliches Konzert). Johann Strauss II was the only composer performed, in a modest program:


There were no encores in 1939, and sources indicate they did not begin until 1945. Clemens Krauss almost always included "Perpetuum mobile" either on the concert or as an encore. Surprisingly, the waltz The Blue Danube was not performed until 1945, and then as an encore. The Radetzky March was first performed in 1946, as an encore. Until 1958 these last two pieces were often but not always given as encores. Since that year their position as twin encores has been inviolable tradition, with two exceptions: in 1967 Willi Boskovsky made the Blue Danube part of his concert program and in 2005 Lorin Maazel concluded the program with the Blue Danube, omitting the Radetzky March as a mark of respect to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.


Boskovsky, concertmaster of the orchestra from 1936 until 1979, conducted the Vienna New Year's concerts from 1955 to 1979. In 1980, Lorin Maazel became the first non-Austrian conductor of the concert. The practice of choosing a different star conductor every year (and occasional star soloists) began in 1987 after seven appearances in a row by Maazel. Members of the orchestra voted to rotate conductors. The first of these rotating stars was Herbert von Karajan, an Austrian, then 78 and in frail health.


The concert is popular throughout Europe, and more recently around the world. The demand for tickets is so high that people have to pre-register one year in advance in order to participate in the drawing of tickets for the following year. Some seats are pre-registered by certain Austrian families and are passed down from generation to generation.

The event is televised by the Austrian national broadcasting service ORF – from 1989 to 1993, 1997 to 2009, and again in 2011 under the direction of Brian Large – and relayed via the European Broadcasting Union's Eurovision network to most major broadcasting organizations in Europe. On 1 January 2013, for example, the concert was shown on ZDF in Germany, France 2 in France, BBC Two in the United Kingdom, Rai 2 in Italy (on some hours delay), RSI La 1 in Switzerland, La 1 in Spain, ČT2 in the Czech Republic, RTP1 in Portugal, and TVP2 in Poland, among many other channels. The concert was again televised by ORF on 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016.

Outside Europe it is also shown on PBS in the United States (beginning in 1985, as part of the performing arts anthology Great Performances), CCTV in China since 1987, NHK in Japan since 1973, MetroTV in Indonesia, KBS in South Korea, and SBS in Australia (on delay). Since 2006, the concert has also been broadcast to viewers in several African countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe). In Latin America the concert is shown in Chile by La Red, and in Guatemala, Ecuador and Bolivia. Indonesia's MetroTV broadcasts the concert although it is delayed by 4 to 5 days.

The concert is also broadcast live by many radio stations in Europe, the United States, and around the world.

Commercial recordingsEdit

Decca Records made the first of the live commercial recordings, with the 1 January 1979 digital recording (their first digital LP releases) of the 25th anniversary of the New Year's Concert with Willi Boskovsky conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

Recording label Years recorded
Decca Records 1979, 2008–2011
Deutsche Grammophon 1980–1988, 1991, 2003–2007
Sony Classical Records 1989–1990, 1992, 1994–1995, 2012–2017
Philips Classics Records 1993, 2002
BMG 1996, 1998–1999
EMI 1997, 2000
Teldec 2001

Other New Year's concerts in ViennaEdit

The Vienna Hofburg Orchestra's traditional New Year's Eve Concert takes place on 31 December in the halls of the Hofburg Palace. The program features the most famous waltz and operetta melodies by Johann Strauss, Emmerich Kálmán, Franz Lehár and opera arias by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.[15]


  1. ^ "Walzerenergie für den Globus". Der Standard (in German). 28 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Neujahrskonzert 2015: Jahr der Jubiläen". Die Presse (in German). 29 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Tanz das Jahr – Das Shooting, Der Standard, 30 December 2013 (in German)
  4. ^ "A New Year, and New Duds, for the Vienna Philharmonic". The New York Times. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Germany,, Dresden, (15 February 2016). "Ernst Theis". Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "31. Dezember 1939 – Erstes Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker". WDR. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  7. ^ Harald Walser (29 December 2015). "Das Neujahrskonzert und so manch unhaltbare Legende". Die Presse. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "Zubin Mehta dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2015", Der Standard, 31 December 2013 (in German)
  9. ^ Riccardo Muti dirigiert das Neujahrskonzert 2018 (in German)
  10. ^ "Mariss Jansons dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2016", ORF, 1 January 2015
  11. ^ "Barenboim dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2014", Der Standard (in German)
  12. ^ "New Year's Concert 2011 with Franz Welser-Möst". Vienna Philharmonic. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Franz Welser-Möst dirigiert Neujahrskonzert 2013". Der Standard (in German). 31 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Dudamel leitet Neujahrskonzert 2017" [Dudamel Conducts New Year's Concert 2017]. Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (in German). Retrieved 19 August 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Vienna Hofburg Orchestra New Year's Eve Concert", Vienna Hofburg Orchestra

External linksEdit