A r t s & L i f e
OPEC bulletin 5–7/17
The concert evolved over time and did not have
the impact that it has today when it started, he says.
According to literature, the first New Year’s Concert took
place during the darkest chapter of Austrian history and
that of the Vienna Philharmonic.
It was in the 1930s, in the midst of dictatorship, bar-
barianism and war, when people feared for their lives and
On January 1, 1941, a Philharmonic matinee enti-
‘Johann Strauss Concert’
was performed. It was
seen in part as an expression of Viennese individu-
ality, taking place as it did in the middle of the war.
But is was also misappropriated for national-socialist
From 1929 to 1933, Clemens Krauss conducted an
annual concert of Strauss compositions at the Salzburg
Festival, thus anticipating the format of the future New
Year’s Concerts. Krauss then conducted the New Year’s
Concerts until the end of the war and after a small break
conducted seven more concerts until 1954.
After KraussdiedonMay16, 1954, the orchestra, after
much deliberation, decided to entrust concertmaster,
Interior detail from
Collection of Historic Musical
section of the
(Museum of Art History),
Willi Boskovsky, with the artistic direction of the New
This turned out to be a stroke of genius, with
Boskovsky going on to conduct the concert 25 times —
between 1955 and 1979 — making such an enduring
impression that his resignation constituted the end of an
era. Since 1986, conductors have been rotated annually.
The idea of Vienna as a classical music capital is more
embedded in the minds of people outside the country
than inside, contends Schmidl. The trademark is still very
attractive for music students from abroad, for example.
Most still come to study classical music and an instru-
ment or composing.
There is not very much emphasis placed in music in
the public school system, but the music schools and uni-
versities dedicated to music are excellent.
Teachers in Vienna are very good and this level of
excellence is an economic factor behind why students
choose to come here, says Schmidl.
“If you say abroad that you studied in Vienna, you are
in a better position job-wise. This is especially true when
it comes to Asia.”