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Prof. Reinhard Öhlberger
The 12th Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn took place early this year, on May 14th, in daring opposition to the weather predictions found in the Farmer's Almanac, which designates this period as being that of the "Eisheiligen", a period in May with an increased likelihood of cold weather. This time the risk paid off, however, as approximately 100,000 visitors enjoyed a concert free of rain, sleet and snow. Just in case, we had our weather-resistant maestro and Honorary Member Zubin Mehta on the podium, an experienced open-air conductor who was well prepared to deal with the vagaries of the weather, had this been necessary.
The Summer Night Concert Schönbrunn now holds – in addition to the New Year's Concert – a permanent position in the Vienna Philharmonic concert season, due to the wonderful ambience of the location in which it is held and the policy of free admission.
The program opened festively with the "Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare" for brass by Richard Strauss. This fanfare was composed for the very first Philharmonic Ball in 1924 and it is heard until this day every year at the ball during the ceremonial entry of the ball's honored guests. After this opening fanfare, the concert program continued, in keeping with this year's theme of recognizing northern European composers, with Carl Nielsen's Overture to the comic opera "Maskarade".
This was followed by the Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16 by Edvard Grieg, featuring Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist. Buchbinder crowned his appearance with one of his favorite encores, the "Soirée de Vienne" by Alfred Grünfeld, which is based on waltzes and other motives from Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus", arranged for a virtuoso solo piano. The well-known "Frühlingsrauschen (Rustles of Spring)", op. 32, No. 3 by Friedrich Sinding is normally heard as a piano solo, but for this evening's concert it was performed in the adaptation by Hans Sitt for full orchestra. The program then continued with Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt Suite", op. 46, utilizing the four divisions "Morning Mood", "The Death of Åse", "Anitra's Dance" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King".
The official program of the Summer Night Concert concluded with Jean Sibelius' "Finlandia", which was followed by two encores: Hans Christian Lumbye's "Københavns Jernbane Damp Galop (Copenhagen Steam Railway Gallop)", which is a whistling, puffing and roaring homage to travel by steam train; and the familiar Viennese anthem, "Wiener Blut", op. 354, by Johann Strauss.