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One, two, (maybe) three: Muti again waltzes Vienna through beloved New Year’s concert

Submitted by on Dec 30, 2017 – 1:49 pm

Preview: Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will lead the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Day concert at the Musikverein. It will be broadcast worldwide.
By Nancy Malitz

When Riccardo Muti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert for the fifth time in his career, it will be 11:15 a.m. in the city of Mozart, Beethoven and Johann Strauss Jr., but only 4:15 a.m. in Chicago.

Worry not, there are multiple ways to enjoy this event, which epitomizes the close friendship that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s music director has had with the esteemed Vienna Philharmonic, dating back some 47 years.The concert will broadcast from the Golden Hall in Vienna’s Musikverein, where Muti is a favorite son, to more than 50 million expected viewers and listeners in some 90 countries around the world. (The photo above is of a rehearsal underway.)

The concert promises great fun, with plenty of music by Johann Strauss, Jr., the “waltz king,” including polka, galop, and mazurka. But mostly, waltzes, including the famous “Myrtle Blossoms,” “Roses from the South,” and “Tales from the Vienna Woods.” In a delightful November interview with Dennis Polkow, when Muti was in Chicago last, the maestro conveyed the secret of the particular Viennese lilt that not everyone masters – on this side of the Atlantic, at least:

“The waltz is always in three: One, two, three; One, two, three. But the Viennese joke that the Viennese waltz is: One, two and maybe three; One, two and maybe three! There is a sort of hesitation or rubato that is not easy. You can try to imitate, but then it becomes a caricature of what for the Viennese is so, so natural.”

U.S. audiences can enjoy a slight delay in broadcast times to accommodate the inevitable effects of the midnight countdown on New Year’s Eve.

Here are some viewing and listening options:

  • On WFMT radio: The Vienna Philharmonic broadcast begins at 10 a.m. Jan. 1, just a few hours delayed: For the Jan. 1 broadcast schedule, go here.
  • On the PBS television Chicago channel WTTW: The Vienna Philharomonic concert will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on Jan. 1, repeating twice on Jan. 2 — at the wee hour of 1:30 a.m. and in the afternoon at 2 p.m. Hugh Bonneville is the television host, offering onsite clips from a variety of Vienna locations between musical selections. Click here for viewing details.
  • PBS-TV elsewhere: To find the PBS broadcast times for this Vienna Philharmonic concert in other cities, go here.
  • On CD: In a quick turnaround, ArkivMusic Records will release a live recording of the New Year’s concert on Jan. 5, at a pre-order price of $11.99, on the Sony label. Details here. 
  • Boxed set: For those who just can’t get enough, Sony’s 23-CD box set of all the works performed on Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s concerts since 1941, touching on a variety of conductors over the years, including Muti, is currently available at $59.99. Go here.


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