The New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the world’s longest-standing and most prestigious music events. In its history of more than 70 years, many of the most famous conductors have taken the baton for this concert and millions of people in some 80 countries have enjoyed live broadcasts on TV.
One of the most distinguished conductors of our time, Daniel Barenboim, returns to direct the 2014 concert, having already done so in 2009. The decision to invite him was made by the Vienna Philharmonic to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its collaboration with Barenboim and in recognition not only of the conductor’s artistic standing but also of his courageous work towards reconciliation in the Middle East.
On New Year’s Day the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra presents from Vienna’s Musikverein an entertaining and heart-warming programme drawn mainly from the musical repertoire of the Strauss dynasty and its contemporaries. The proven formula blends well-known classics with premieres of works that have never been performed before at the New Year´s Concert. The result is invariably both joyful and moving. The programme traditionally includes surprises and will remain a closely guarded secret until a few days before the event.
Daniel Barenboim, born in Buenos Aires to parents of Russian-Jewish descent, gave his first official concert when he was seven. In 1954 he took part in Igor Markevitch’s conducting classes in Salzburg, later studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and from the mid-1960s increasingly devoted himself to conducting. From 1975 to 1989 he was chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris and from 1981 conducted at the Bayreuth Festival over 18 consecutive summers. In 1991 he became music director of the Chicago Symphony, in 1992 general music director of Berlin’s Deutsche Staatsoper and in 2000 was appointed ‘chief conductor for life’ of the Berlin Staatskapelle. He also appears regularly with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. In 2007 he began a close relationship with the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where he is now music director. In 1999 Barenboim and the Palestinian American Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan workshop and orchestra, in which young musicians from Israel, Palestine and various other countries in the Middle East perform together. For this work as well as his musical achievements, Daniel Barenboim has received many prizes and honours.
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra goes back to 1842, when Otto Nicolai conducted a Grand Concert with all members of the imperial court opera. This event is regarded as the origin of the orchestra. Since its founding the orchestra has been managed by a democratically elected administrative committee and works with artistic, organisational and financial autonomy. In the 20th century the Vienna Philharmonic had important artistic collaborations with Richard Strauss, Arturo Toscanini, Wilhelm Furtwängler and – after 1945 – with honorary conductors Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan. The orchestra has performed approximately 7000 concerts on all five continents since its creation and has presented Vienna Philharmonic Weeks in New York since 1989 and in Japan since 1993.
The tradition of the New Year’s Concert began in 1939. Its first conductor, Clemens Krauss, was succeeded in 1955 by Willi Boskovsky, who conducted this event 25 times until 1979. The list of conductors who have led the New Year’s Concert since then is a who’s who of leading conductors. In 1959 it was broadcast live on television for the first time. The proud tradition continues in 2014, when the New Year’s Concert under Daniel Barenboim promises to be a memorable occasion.
The Vienna Philharmonic sees its concert as a musical greeting and message of hope and peace to the world at the start of a new year. In this spirit of outreach to a wide audience, the live recording of the New Year´s Concert 2014 will be available by Sony Classical on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, Vinyl, digital download and digital longform video.