There are few concerts in the world that are awaited with as much excitement as the New Year’s Concert from Vienna. Under the direction of Andris Nelsons, the Vienna Philharmonic ushers in the New Year with a concert in the magnificent Golden Hall of the Vienna Musikverein.
The concert is relayed to over ninety countries all round the world, reaching an audience of more than fifty million.
The 2020 New Year’s Concert was conducted for the first time by the Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, who first worked with the Vienna Philharmonic in October 2010 and who has been a regular and invariably welcome guest since then, not only at the orchestra’s subscription concerts in the Vienna Musikverein and at the Salzburg Festival but also on tours of Asia, the United States and Europe. So far he has appeared more than sixty times on the podium of the Vienna Philharmonic.
At the 2020 New Year’s Concert Andris Nelsons conducted a number of premieres that have not previously been heard at the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert.
In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, the 2020 Concert marks the first time that an original work by Beethoven was performed at a New Year’s Concert. The seventh of his Contredanses WoO 14 is by some distance the most famous of the set since its central motif is a theme that the composer went on to use not only in his ballet music for The Creatures of Prometheus but also as the theme of his Piano Variations op. 35 and, above all, in the final movement of his “Eroica” Symphony, in which form it became famous all over the world. The waltz Seid umschlungen, Millionen also pays tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven, who chose to settle in Vienna at an early age. Other works that were heard for the first time in 2020 include the Overture to Carl Michael Ziehrer’s Die Landstreicher and three pieces by Josef Strauß, the sesquicentenary of whose death is being marked by the Vienna Philharmonic. They are his carefree waltz Liebesgrüße, his Liechtenstein March and his Cupido Polka. For the first time the 2020 New Year’s Concert featured the Postillon-Galop by the Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye, who first came into contact with music by the Strauß family in Copenhagen and who went on to adapt their style to suit his own.
In addition to works by Josef Hellmesberger the Younger and Eduard Strauß, Andris Nelsons also conducted music by Johann Strauß the Younger, notably Wo die Zitronen blüh’n and the famous Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka.