| Simon Sturdee |
VIENNA (AFP) – Indian maestro Zubin Mehta will seek to inject what he says is some much needed harmony into the world when he conducts the illustrious Vienna New Year’s Concert on January 1.
“All over the world there are people who hate each other,” Mehta, 78, who is holding the baton for a fifth time at the annual waltz fest beamed live to 50 million people worldwide, told Austrian daily Die Presse.
“This music can at least bring people together for two and a half hours,” he said.
Indeed, the 90 or so countries able to watch Thursday’s concert live include for the first time conflict-driven Ukraine, as well as other new-comers as far afield as the Bahamas, Armenia and Mehta’s native India, organisers said.
The Vienna Philharmonic’s annual “Neujahrs-konzert” ringing in the New Year from Golden Hall of the exalted Musikverein is devoted largely to the kings of 19th century waltz, the Strauss family.
Each year has some variety, however. Last year, alongside favourites like “The Blue Danube” and “The Radetzky March”, with Daniel Barenboim conducting, the programme included works com-memorating the centenary of the start of World War I.
This time the occasion is a happier one, with music marking the 650th birthday of Vienna University as well as the 200th of the Austrian capital’s Technical University and the 150th of Vienna’s grand Ringstrasse boulevard.
These include for example “Accelerationen” (“Accelerations”) and the “Elektro-magnetische Polka” by Johann Strauss junior, as well as his “Studenten-Polka” (“Students’ Polka”).
Non-Strauss pieces include the “Champagne Galop” by 19th century Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye – which starts with the pop of a champagne cork.
Certain works such as “Wein, Weib und Gesang” (“Wine, women and song”) will be accompanied by ballet performances by Vienna State Ballet soloists choreographed by Italian Davide Bombana.