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On October 29, 2010, the orchestra boarded the plane for the fifteenth "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan". The programming and scheduling of this tour, which had been planned in detail in 2007, was beginning in January 2010 subject to several major alterations. First, Seiji Ozawa was forced due to severe illness to cancel his appearances on the tour as well as the Vienna subscription concerts and a concert in Rome associated with it. Esa-Pekka Salonen, along with Andrís Nelsons and Andrés Orozco-Estrada agreed to fill in, but Salonen was forced to cancel due to personal reasons only six days before the first rehearsal. Business manager Dr. Dieter Flury managed in only 24-hours (!) to rescue these scheduled concerts, with Georges Prêtre, Franz Welser-Möst and Andrís Nelsons agreeing to take over those performances previously scheduled with Esa-Pekka Salonen.
The opening concert of the "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan" took place on November 1st in Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Andrís Nelsons conducted Mozart's Symphony in B-flat major, KV 319; as well as Dvořáks "New World" Symphony (as encore: Braham's Hungarian Dances, Nos. 21 and 22); and Dieter Küblböck shined as soloist in the Trombone Concerto by Henri Tomasi. On the next day the orchestra made its first appearance in the "Lilia Hall" in the city of Kawaguchi near Tokyo, which was celebrating its twenty year anniversary, performing, in addition to Mozart and Dvořák, Haydn's "Drum Roll" Symphony with Andrís Nelsons. To commemorate this concert, a plague was affixed on the outer wall of the "Lilia Hall" building and unveiled in the presence of numerous music lovers, as well as Professor Dr. Otto Biba and Dr. Ingrid Fuchs, who supervised a sensationally well-attended exhibition of the Archives of the Society of Friends of Music.
November 3, 2010, will remain one of the most tragic days in the history of our orchestra. At approximately 1:00 pm, while climbing Mt. Fuji, Georg Straka suffered a fatal accident. In his memory, at the orchestra's next concert which took place on November 4th in Suntory Hall, the "Air" from Johann Sebastian Bach's Overture No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, along with a minute of silence opened the concert, followed by the aforementioned works by Haydn, Tomasi and Dvořák.
On November 5, 2010, in Kawasaki, Andrís Nelsons conducted his fourth and final concert on this tour with the program from Nov. 2nd. In the meanwhile, Georges Prêtre had arrived and held a dress rehearsal which was open to the public in Suntory Hall with a program selected by him which included Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, D 125, and Ludwig van Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony. The encores were Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Johann Strauss' fast polka "Tritsch Tratsch". The 86-year-old conductor, who had made his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1963 and conducted the New Year's Concerts in 2008 and 2010, was making his first appearance with our orchestra in Japan and conducted three additional concerts on November 6th, 7th, and 10th in Nishinomiya, Miyazaki and Tokyo. Two additional concert dates on this Japan tour were conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. At a young people's concert on November 9th, the General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera, elucidated in a very impressive way Richard Wagner's Prelude and Liebestod from "Tristan und Isolde" as well as Anton Bruckner's 9th Symphony, which the composer had dedicated to "our dear God". He then conducted both these works that evening in Suntory Hall.
As is always the case with the "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan" there were numerous accompanying events. Hans Peter Schuh gave a master class and Dr. Clemens Hellsberg delivered a lecture on Robert Schumann, who was born on June 8, 1810, and Otto Nicolai, who was born on June 9, 1810. Within the lecture's framework, Rainer Küchl, Eckhard Seifert, Tobias Lea and Gerhard Iberer performed compositions by both of these composers. Suntory Hall gave the traditional invitation to a "Welcome Party" as well as a closing event. The orchestra's participation in the obligatory reception of the "Association of the Friends of the Vienna Philharmonic", scheduled for November 4th, was cancelled, taking place only one day after Georg Straka's tragic accident.
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