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This year's 68th Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert, which was broadcast by Austrian Television for the 50th time, was conducted by a relative "newcomer". For the first time, Georges Prêtre directed the orchestra's traditional New Year’s greeting from Vienna, which was broadcast by a record 59 TV stations and over 300 radio stations worldwide, and was viewed in Austria by approximately 1.1 million people. It was also the first time that a French conductor has stood on the podium for this concert, a fact which was reflected in the programming developed together with Professor Franz Mailer, honorary member of Vienna's Johann Strauss Society. From a total of 21 compositions (including encores), five of these featured a direct or indirect "French connection", having been composed by Johann Strauss, senior and junior for concert tours in France. In addition to Strauss, senior and his sons Johann and Josef, the composers Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), who with them is considered to be a co-founders of the "classical" Viennese Waltz, and the former Philharmonic subscription concert conductor and chairman Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr. (1855-1907). Keeping in the spirit of the Strauss family, whose compositions reflected the technical, social-political, and historical events and changes of their times with seismographic accuracy, two upcoming world sporting events, the Olympic Games in Peking and the European Football Championship taking place in Austria and Switzerland, were also alluded to in this year's concert programming with the "Chinese Gallop" and the "Sport Polka".
This year's list of compositions also included five works (denoted here by an asterisk) performed for the first time during the New Year's Concert: Johann Strauss: Napoleon March, op 156; Josef Strauss: Dorfschwalben aus Österreich, Walzer, op. 164; Laxenburger Polka*, op. 60 (composed upon the occasion of the birth of Crown Prince Rudolph, who was born in 1858 at Laxenburg Palace); Johann Strauss, sen.: Paris Waltz*, op 101; Versailler Gallop*, op. 107; Johann Strauss: Orpheus Quadrille*, op. 236; Josef Hellmesberger, jr.: Kleiner Anzeiger, Gallop, op. 4; Johann Strauss: Overture to "Indigo and the 40 Thieves"; Freuet euch des Lebens Waltz, op. 340; Bluette, Polka francaise, op. 271; Tritsch-Tratsch, fast polka, op. 214; Joseph Lanner: Hofball Dances Waltz, op. 161; Josef Strauss: Die Libelle. Polka mazur, op. 1204; Johann Strauss: Russian March, op. 426; Die Pariserin*. Polka francaise, op. 238; Johann Strauss, sen.: Chinese Gallop, op. 20; Johann Strauss: Emperor Waltz, op. 437; and Die Bajadere, fast polka, op. 351. The encores were the afore-mentioned "Sport-Polka", op. 170, by Josef Strauss, and the traditional "Blue Danube Waltz" and "Radetzky March".
As is the custom every year, the New Year’s Eve Concert was also performed, as was the Preview Performance on December 30th, which replaced the former concert for the Austrian armed forces in the 1999/2000 season. The proceeds from this concert in the amount of €100,000 were donated to the charitable organization "Licht ins Dunkel".- Dr. Clemens Hellsberg