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Only two days after returning from Bucharest the rehearsals for one of the farthest tours in the orchestra's history began. Between September 29 and October 19, under the direction of Christoph Eschenbach, the Vienna Philharmonic made guest appearances in Australia, Hong Kong, Macao, and Japan. In addition to a time difference of up to 9 hours and approximately 50 hours flying time, which were augmented with about 42 hours spent on Buses, trains and boats and additional time spent in various airports.
The tour began with two concerts on September 29/30 in Perth. For the opening evening the "Tragic Overture" in D minor, op. 81 by Johannes Brahms; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony in C major, KV 338; and Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major (with Wolfgang Tomböck on first horn) were performed. The second concert, at which time Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759 ("Unfinished"); eight songs from "The Youth's Magic Horn", sung by Matthias Goerne; and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93, were on the program. The encore was the 2nd movement of Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C major, op. 6. This concert was broadcast simultaneously via video screen in twelve locations (Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Esperance, Exmouth, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Margret River, Merredin, Moora and Port Hedland). This provides an impression of the immense dimensions found in Western Australia, the largest Australian state, which the maximum distance between these cities just being approximately 2500 kilometers. In Brisbane, where the same program (with the encores: Johann Strauss' "Emperor" and "Blue Danube" walzes) was repeated on October 2/3, the second concert was the first ever simultaneous broadcast in Queensland, being transmitted to Cairns, Mackay, Mount Isa, Gladstone, Townsville and Rockhampton, with these six chosen locations being spread over 1.7 million square kilometres within Australia's second largest state. On October 5/6/ 7, three concerts followed in the Sydney Opera House, known world-wide for its outstanding architecture, where the Philharmonic made its first appearances in Australia in September 2006. The Schubert/Mahler/Beethoven program was performed twice; in between was thr Brahms/Mozart/Bruckner program. As was the case in Perth and Brisbane, prominent political representatives of the Australian state of New South Wales were present, and all rehearsals were open to students from the various music schools. Walter Auer and Hans Peter Schuh gave workshops at the Central Coast Conservatory of Music in Gosford (New South Wales).
The seven concerts in Australia were followed by two appearances in China. On October 9th in Hong Kong, the afore-mentioned compositions by Brahms and Schubert were combined with Mahler's "The Youth's Magic Horn", with the Blue Danube Waltz as encore. As was the case at our last guest appearance there in 2006, there was a Vidiwall broadcast to the square in front of the Hong Kong Cultural Center. The next day the orchestra performed for the first time in the former Portuguese colony of Macao (which, like Hong Kong, is now a special administrative zone within the People's Republic of China) playing Mozart's C major Symphony and Bruckner's Fourth Symphony.
On October 11th, the tour took the orchestra to the 16th "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan". Naturally the artistic aspect stands in the forefront of every tour, but in Japan it encompasses a wider dimension. With our 29 guest appearances including 265 concerts since 1956, a special relationship with the Japanese music lovers has developed which is unique in its intensely and quality. This year's guest appearances, coming after the natural catastrophe in Fukushima, were of particular significance. It was a visit with our most stalwart foreign friends who had suffered a dreadful stroke of fate. The Philharmonic, along with Christian Eschenbach, Matthias Goern and Lang Lang, wanted to express our heartfelt sympathy by our presence there. Another aspect of this year's "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan" was the 25th anniversary of Suntory Hall. Since our first appearance there in 1987, we have felt at home in this hall which opened in 1986, and it was our wish to make a contribution to the anniversary celebrations.
The "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan" was under the patronage of Suntory Holdings, Ltd. for the eleventh time, whereby Dai-ichi Life Insurance served as co-sponsor. It included seven concerts in four cities, augmented with one youth and one benefit concert. In addition the Vienna Philharmonic and Suntory Holdings Ltd. each donated €1,000,000 to a specially founded "Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Suntory Music Aid Fund", from which the victims of the Fukushima catastrophe are to be assisted.
October 12– Yokohama (Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall)Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major (Soloist: Lang Lang)Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E-flat majorEncore: Johann Strauss: "Blue Danube" Waltz, op. 314
October 13– Tokyo (Suntory Hall)Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major (Soloist: Lang Lang)Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 2 in C major, op. 61Johann Strauss: "Emperor" Waltz, op. 437Encores: Johann Strauss: "Blue Danube" Waltz, op. 314Johann Strauss: "Thunder and Lightning", Fast Polka, op. 324This concert was broadcast by the Japanese television network NHK.
October 15– Hiroshima (Hiroshima Bunka Koryo Kaikan)Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major (Soloist: Lang Lang)Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E-flat majorEncore: Johann Strauss: "Blue Danube" Waltz, op. 314
October 16 – Nagoya (Aichi Arts Center)Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major (Soloist: Lang Lang)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony in C major, KV 338 Franz Schubert: Symphony Nr. 8 in B minor, D 759 ("Unfinished")Encore: Johann Strauss: "Blue Danube" Waltz, op. 314
October 17 – Tokyo (Suntory Hall)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony in C major, KV 338 Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major
October 18 (12:00) – Tokyo (Suntory Hall): Jugend- bzw. BenefizkonzertWolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto in A major, KV 488, 2nd Movement (Soloist: Christoph Eschenbach)Gustav Mahler: Three Songs from "The Youth's Magic Horn" (Soloist: Matthias Goerne)Franz Schubert: Symphony Nr. 8 in B minor, D 759 ("Unfinished")
October 18 (19:00) – Tokyo (Suntory Hall)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony in C major, KV 338 Franz Schubert: Symphony Nr. 8 in B minor, D 759 ("Unfinished")Gustav Mahler: Songs from "The Youth's Magic Horn" (Soloist: Matthias Goerne)Johann Strauss: "Thunder and Lightning", Fast Polka, op. 324
October 19 – Tokyo (Suntory Hall)Johannes Brahms: Tragic Overture in D minor, op. 81Franz Schubert: Symphony Nr. 8 in B minor, D 759 ("Unfinished")Gustav Mahler: Songs from "The Youth's Magic Horn" (Soloist: Matthias Goerne)Encores: Johann Strauss: "Blue Danube" Waltz, op. 314Johann Strauss: "Thunder and Lightning", Fast Polka, op. 324
As usual, the concerts were augmented by various events. Wolfgang Schulz held a master class, and the traditional meeting of the "Association of Friends of the Vienna Philharmonic in Japan" took place on Oct. 18th. Suntory invited the entire orchestra to a welcome party on October 13th and a farewell event on October 19th. The obligatory address by Clemens Hellsberg on October 14th had as its theme "25 Years Suntory Hall", at which time a particularly special musical anniversary tribute was performed: Wolfgang Schulz played "Air for Flute" by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) and together with Dieter Flury and Walter Auer also performed the Trio in B minor, op. 90 for three flutes by Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832) - a musician who was born in Uelzen, made a career in chamber music and was the court composer in Copenhagen and who was greatly admired by Franz Schubert. The performance of the trio as part of the tribute to Suntory Hall, was possibly the first official joint appearance of three principal flutists of the Vienna Philharmonic. Musically opulent was also the close of the event: Christoph Eschenbach performed the Piano Quartet in G minor, KV 478, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with Volkhard Steude, Elmar Landerer and Franz Bartolomey.
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