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The Vienna Philharmonic's performances at this year's Salzburg Festival were largely dominated by Riccardo Muti, who conducted 15 performances and 14 rehearsals. At the end of the Festival commenced a further phase of concentrated work with this conductor, who since his debut with the orchestra in 1971 has been a constant fixture in the Philharmonic calendar. On September 1, we began intensive rehearsals for a major concert tour which was preceded by two concerts in Vienna. On September 3, at the Theatre an der Wien, the program of the first subscription concert was performed, and on September 6 at a special concert celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Schoeller Bank, the Symphony in F Major, Hob. I:67, of Josef Haydn along with Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony in E Minor, op. 64, were played.
Am September 7, the orchestra left for the Lucerne Festival where, for the past 15 years, the Vienna Philharmonic has been invited as Orchestra in Residence. At the first concert on September 8, the violist Antoine Tamestit, winner of this year's "Credit Suisse Young Artists Award," was introduced, playing the Viola Concerto by Béla Bartók. Following the intermission came Anton Bruckner's 2nd Symphony, which received its world premiere on October 26, 1873, with Bruckner conducting our orchestra. This work, which Bruckner's offer of dedication the orchestra rejected at the time, had, over the intervening 126 years, received only five additional performances, and was therefore, so to say, a step-child in our orchestra's repertoire. The composition experienced a renaissance beginning in 1999 with Seiji Ozawa and Riccardo Muti performing the symphony 15 times in Vienna, London, Baden-Baden, New York, Shanghai, Seoul, Cologne and Paris. The encore on the concert of Sept. 8, 2008, was the "Notturno" by Giuseppe Martucci. The concert on September 9 began with the Overture to the Opera "Semiramide" by Gioacchino Rossini; it was followed by Igor Stravinsky's "The Fairy's Kiss", and concluded with Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. For an encore, Riccardo Muti conducted the waltz "Marienklänge", op. 214 of Josef Strauss, which he had performed with us at the New Year's Concert in 2000. At the last concert of our guest appearance in Lucerne on September 10, the program of the first subscription concert was performed, with Giacomo Puccini's Intermezzo from the Opera "Manon Lescaut" as the encore.
On September 11, the orchestra travelled on to take part in the 13th "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan". Having celebrated the Mozart Year there in 2006, which was also the 50th anniversary year of Vienna Philharmonic appearances in Japan, we consequently made no appearance in that country in 2007, and the 2008 visit constituted the 26th guest appearance of our orchestra in Japan. These statistics mirror the great enthusiasm of the Japanese music lovers and the faithfulness with which Suntory Ltd. and Suntory Hall continue to nurture this relationship. With the new contract, which runs from 2008 through 2011, President Nobutada Gary Saji, extends a unique collaboration which was initially established by President Keizo Saji, the founder of Suntory Hall, in 1999, and which constitutes a milestone in the history of our orchestra.
The Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan was comprised of nine concerts in six different cities:September 14 – KawasakiGiuseppe Verdi: Overture to "Giovanna d’Arco"Giuseppe Verdi: Ballet Music from "Les Vêpres Siciliennes"Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, op. 64Encore: Josef Strauss: "Marienklänge". Waltz, op. 214
September 15 – OsakaProgram of September 14
September 16 – Tokyo, Suntory HallJoseph Haydn: Symphony in F Major, Hob. I:67Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 in C MinorEncore: Giuseppe Martucci: "Notturno"
September 18 – Tokyo, Suntory HallGiuseppe Verdi: Overture to "Giovanna d’Arco"Giuseppe Verdi: Ballet Music from "Les Vêpres Siciliennes"Nino Rota: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Soloist: Ian Bousfield)Nino Rota: Music from the Film "Il Gattopardo"Encore: Giacomo Puccini: Intermezzo aus "Manon Lescaut"
19. September – Tokyo, Suntory HallGioacchino Rossini: Overture to "Semiramide"Igor Strawinsky: The Fairy's KissPeter Ilich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, op. 64Encore: Josef Strauss: "Marienklänge". Waltz, op. 214
September 20 – NiigataJoseph Haydn: Symphony in F Major, Hob. I:67Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in C Major, D 944Encore: Franz Schubert: Entreacte from "Rosamunde”
September 22– SapporoProgram of September 19
September 23 – Tokyo, Suntory HallProgram of September 19. This concert was broadcast by the Japanese television network, NHK.
September 24 – NaganoProgram of September 14
As with every "Vienna Philharmonic Week in Japan" since 1999, there were additional events this year as well: Ian Bousfield conducted a master class in Tokyo; Günter Voglmayr, Peter Schmidl and Hans Peter Schuh gave workshops in Nagano; an open rehearsal was held for students; the "Association of Friends of the Vienna Philharmonic in Japan" gave a reception; and Suntory Hall invited everyone, following a concert in Tokyo, to the traditional farewell party. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg gave a lecture on the theme of the "100th Birthday of Herbert von Karajan - 100th Year of the Association of the Vienna Philharmonic," at which time Riccardo Muti recounted his personal recollections of Herbert von Karajan. Rainer Küchl, Eckhard Seifert, Tobias Lea and Gerhard Iberer performed musical selections from string quartets by Joseph Haydn (Hob. III:65, First Movement); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ("Dissonanzquartett", KV 465, Second Movement); Franz Schmidt (String Quartet in A Major, Scherzo); and the String Quartet in B-flat Major composed by our founder, Otto Nicolai.
Even after our return on September 25, the "Muti-Festival" was not yet completed. On September 27 & 28, at the 1st Subscription Concerts, the program with Verdi and Rota was repeated, and on September 30, at a concert for the Society of Friends of Music, Rossini's "Semiramide Overture", Stravinsky's "The Fairy's Kiss" and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony were performed.
On September 29, an additional foreign guest appearance was conducted under special auspices. For the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the World Health Organisation (WHO) , the Vienna Philharmonic gave a benefit concert in the Victoria Hall in Geneva, performing the Symphony in F Major, Hob. I: 67, by Josef Haydn and Franz Schubert's "great" C Major Symphony. The concert saluted the work of this world-wide organisation, as well as the fulfilment of a legacy: Dr. Jong-wook Lee, General Director of WHO between 2003 and 2006, whose initiative it was in 2005 to make the Vienna Philharmonic ambassadors of the WHO, had asked that the anniversary of the founding of this organisation be celebrated with a gala concert. Following the sudden, unexpected death of the Korean-born Dr. Lee at 61 years of age on May 22, 2006, this request was fulfilled posthumously on his behalf. This performance with Riccardo Muti also constituted our first appearance in Geneva in over 36 years, where we had previously performed, between 1935 and 1972, 13 times.-- Dr. Clemens Hellsberg