Something for Thursday

Regular readers of long duration will know that an annual New Year’s tradition at Casa Jaquandor — not yet indulged this year, but likely Saturday night, when The Wife is home from work — is the viewing of the New Year’s From Vienna concert, which features the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and various other artistic groups, most often ballet artists, in a wonderful concert of music by the Strauss family. It’s invariably a magical evening, and one of my greatest dreams is to attend it in person one day. (One of my great dreams of youth, now ruled impossible by choices I’ve made since, was to actually conduct the concert. But that was always unlikely….)

The concert always ends with three encores: a galop or polka chosen by the conductor, and kept secret until the concert itself, followed by a waltz, and then closing with the Radetzky March, which is the Austrian equivalent of The Stars and Stripes Forever. That waltz? Not just any waltz, but the most famous waltz ever written: On the Beautiful Blue Danube.

Most years, the concert footage of Blue Danube is combined with ballet footage, but a couple of years ago, they did something different, using the waltz to trace the flow of the river itself, from its headwaters in Germany all the way to where it empties into the Black Sea. How utterly captivating! Here is On the Beautiful Blue Danube (conducted by Georges Pretre).

And hey, why stop there? From the same concert, here is that final encore number, the Radetzky March. Note the snare drum opening, before our conductor even reaches the podium, and note the audience participation, with our conductor indicating when they should clap softly and when they should clap loudly.

Let 2013 commence proper!

(For those interested, through January 16 you can watch this year’s concert broadcast here.)

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2 Responses to Something for Thursday

  1. SK Waller says:

    Thanks so much for the link! In the years since we gave up regular TV, I've missed watching this concert every year.

    I too wanted to conduct it one year (my degrees are in composition and conducting, after all), until I learned that they've only ever permitted ONE woman to do so. The Vienna Philharmonica is rather a good old boys club, but I still loved that concert every year.

  2. Kal says:

    I love me some Strauss. Austria has a certain special place in my heart and next to Saltzburg, Vienna is my favorite city in the world. I hear the first few notes and I just want to waltz with some fine aryan beermaid with ponytails named Heidi.

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