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Prof. Reinhard Öhlberger
January 1, 2015, marks a special milestone in the history of the Vienna Philharmonic with its being the 75th New Year's Concert. For Maestro and Honorary Vienna Philharmonic Member Zubin Mehta, it constitutes the fifth time that he has conducted this event, following earlier concerts in 1990, 1995, 1998 and 2007. All of these are indicative of the special place Vienna holds in his heart. The program featured works of the four Strauss family members Johann, (father and son), Josef and Eduard, as well as, at the beginning, Franz von Suppé.
Already in the first part of the concert, the waltz "Märchen aus dem Orient" op. 44, by Johann Strauss Jr., was reminiscent of the student days of the Maestro, who was born in 1936 in Bombay and who first appeared on the podium of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961. Characteristic of his affiliation with our orchestra is the fact that Zubin Mehta has worked with four generations of orchestra members.
"Wiener Leben", a polka française by Josef Strauss, op. 218; the fast polka "Wo man lacht und lebt" by Eduard Strauss, op. 108; followed by "Dorfschwalben aus Österreich, a waltz of Josef Strauss, op. 164, and lastly the fast polka "Vom Donaustrande" by Johann Strauss Jr, op. 356, comprised the rest of the first half of the program.
An entire section of compositions were chosen for the second half of the program in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Imperial Polytechnical Institute, the forerunner of today's Technical University of Vienna, which was originally founded in November 1815. The human aspiration toward "Perpetuum mobile", was portrayed by the ingenious musical humor of Johann Strauss Jr. in his op. 257, followed by his waltz "Acceleration", op. 234, the "Electro-Magnetic Polka", op. 110, and fast polka "Mit Dampf" op. 70, by Eduard Strauss, these being suitable selections for this section of the program in commemorating this event.
After this, the audience was musically transported northward by introducing for the first time in the New Year's concert a waltz by Johann Strauss Jr. entitled "An der Elbe", op. 477, which was the last premiere of one of the composer's own compositions which he conducted himself. Traveling still further north, the audience heard a rendition of the "Champagne Gallop, op. 14, by the Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye, a military and municipal conductor in Copenhagen. Lumbye was so enthralled with the music of the Strauss family that he founded his own Strauss-style ensemble, performing their works with such enthusiasm that he was nicknamed "the Danish Strauss".
This was followed by the recognition of another anniversary. The University of Vienna is currently commemorating its founding 650 years ago, which served as a suitable occasion for performing the Students Polka, op. 263, by Johann Strauss and the "Freedom March", op. 226, by Johann Strauss, Sr.
The "Anna Polka" op. 117, of Johann Strauss Jr. was dedicated to Zubin Mehta's wife, Nancy, ("Anna"). and the waltz "Wein, Weib und Gesang", op. 333, also by Johann Strauß Jr., served as a tribute to life in general, as did the final work on the official program "Mit Chic", a fast polka by Eduard Strauss, op. 221.
The first encore for this enthusiastically received concert was the "Explosions-Polka" by Johann Strauss Jr., op. 43. The writer will leave the titles of the second and third encores for the New Year's concert to the discerning imagination of the reader.
As is customary from past years, the New Year's Concert was preceded by the Preview Performance on December 30th at 11:00 AM, as well as the New Year's Eve Concert on December 31st at 7:30 PM.
It was estimated that 50 million viewers in 92 countries followed the ORF's 57th broadcast of the New Year's Concert, either live or time-delayed.
Fourteen cameras in high definition were employed under the supervision of television director Michael Bayer. The firm ROLEX appeared once again as the exclusive sponsor of this concert and the worldwide television marketing was entrusted to the firm Highlight Events of Lucerne, Switzerland.