"From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2017," featuring the infectious melodies of the Strauss Family and their contemporaries, airs on Great Performances, Sunday, January 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) with an encore performance that evening at 7:30 p.m.
New Year's celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic from Vienna's Musikverein. (Courtesy of PBS)
Maestro Dudamel is conducting the ever-popular concert for the very first time. The Vienna Singverein (Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde) concert choir and the soloists of the Vienna State Ballet return for the gala evening marking the 175th anniversary year of the Vienna Philharmonic and its founding conductor Otto Nicolai.
The filming of this year's ballet scenes was done at the Hermesvilla in Vienna. Situated in an idyllic setting in the middle of the Lainzer Tiergarten, the former imperial hunting grounds, the Hermesvilla was described by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (popularly known as 'Sisi') as her "Palace of Dreams." The palace was built for Sisi by her husband Emperor Franz Joseph and was finished in 1886. It is now 180 years since the birth of Empress Elisabeth in 1837.
Gustavo Dudamel is the youngest-ever conductor to lead the Vienna Philharmonic's famous New Year's Concert. As an internationally renowned symphonic and operatic conductor, Dudamel is motivated by a profound belief in music's power to unite and inspire. Currently serving as Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, his impact extends from the greatest concert stages to classrooms, cinemas and innovative digital platforms around the world.
This is the largest worldwide event in classical music reaching millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries. The Vienna Philharmonic's traditional New Year's program has showcased Viennese musical culture at the highest level, and since the first television broadcast in 1959, sent the world a New Year's greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. (The telecast marks the 33rd broadcast of the event on PBS.)
The annual tradition of the New Year's Day Celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic at The Musikverein is as cherished worldwide as its legendary host, actress and author, Julie Andrews. "I love coming to this wondrous city each year with its rich history, beautiful sights and its glorious musical contributions to the world, especially those by the Strauss family. As a proud Board member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, I am especially thrilled that our talented and charismatic maestro, Gustavo Dudamel, will be conducting this year's program."
As is customary with these broadcasts, Andrews travels from her home base in the Musikverein hall itself to visit multiple picturesque Vienna landmarks, including the gym and bedroom at Hermes Villa; Otto Nicolai's study (Haus der Musik); the Imperial stables showcasing the world-famous Lipizzaner from birth to performance; and Hofburg's Sisi Museum.
Andrews and Dudamel visit the Ankerbrotfabrik complex, the home of Superar, the Sistema organization for Central Europe. Dudamel is, of course, famously a product of the Sistema music program in his native Venezuela. (In Vienna, Superar provides music lessons to about 350 kids aged 5-16.) As Dudamel rehearses the students with members of the Vienna Philharmonic, Andrews reflects on Dudamel's background and the youth program that he originated in Los Angeles, YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles).
The musical program, including "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" on the occasion of the piece's 150th anniversary, is as follows:
Franz von Suppe
Queen of Spades, Overture (Pique Dame)
Right This Way, Waltz - Ballet
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Extravagant, Waltz
Johann Strauss, Sr.
The Nasswald Forest Maiden, Ländler
Let's Dance, Quick Polka - Ballet
A Thousand and One Nights, Waltz
Tick Tock Quick Polka
With Pleasure! Quick Polka
On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Waltz
Johann Strauss, Sr.