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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

Kunsthistorisches Museum

(Museum of Art History),

Vienna, Austria.


Willi Boskovsky, with the artistic direction of the New

Year’s Concerts.

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.”