Pinoys deaf to Vienna New Year’s concert


AMID WAR clouds over Europe in 1939, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra began playing its New Year’s Concert to break the gloom of a world hurtling into a world war. Performed on New Year’s Day, the concert has been played at Vienna’s Musikverein, home to the Philharmonic, which is acclaimed as one of the world’ top 10 orchestras. It was built mainly on the repertoire of the lively and nostalgic music (waltzes, marches, and polkas) of the Strauss family, Johann Strauss I and II.

The concert has so captured the hearts of millions of people all over the world, such that by 2013, it has become the most popular concert in most of the world. Last New Year’s Day, the concert was watched and broadcast through radio and TV to 81 countries—unfortunately, not including the Philippines, reputedly a country of music lovers. Among Filipino music lovers, who does not recognize the lilting tune of “Blue Danube Waltz,” or who does not clap to the rhythm of “Radetzky March” in unison with the orchestra?

Why we are not part of the international audience of the New Year’s Concert is due to the fact that our TV-radio networks have not considered it commercially profitable to wire ourselves to the circuit of  followers of classical music. The only station in the Philippines that plays classical music is dzFE, but most networks are amplifiers of assorted noise passing for music.

According to the literature about the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert, the concerts began “during a dark period of Austria’s history,” and were “initially conceived for a local audience as a reminder of better times and a source of hope for the future.” In the 1930s, Hitler annexed Austria, a Germanic race, as part of his Third Reich. Prior to the annexation, Austria had been on a decline way past its glory days as the seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a colossus that strode across Austria and Hungary over the River Danube that divided Western Europe and Eastern Europe. The Habsburg Monarchy, seated in Vienna, was the counterfoil of Christian Europe to the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire of the East and the Russian Empire. Indeed, Austrian historians have claimed that the repulsion of the Ottoman siege of Vienna in medieval times saved Christendom and Western Europe from the advance of the Ottoman Turks. Legend has it that a favorite gastronomic item in Western cuisine—the croissant—originated from the siege of Vienna. Austrian bakers created the croissant in the shape of the crescent—the standard symbol of the

Ottoman armies—to celebrate the defeat of the Turks’ siege.

The Strausses built a body of waltzes probably to remind the rest of Christendom that their waltzes echo the salvation of Western civilization from invaders with a different religious belief. According to other sources: “Today millions of people throughout the world are similarly encouraged by the light-hearted yet subtly profound character of this music, and draw joy for the year ahead.” Sad to say, we don’t have that kind of music from which to draw inspiration and joy.

For the past 10 years, I have been collecting CDs of the New Year’s Concerts, each year with a different conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. I was fortunate to watch its performance either at the Musikverein or the Vienna State Opera when I made a tour of Eastern Europe in 1968 during the Soviet-led invasion of Eastern Europe by the Warsaw Pact armies. In Manila, it is impossible to make a collection of these vintage musical pieces because they are unavailable here and we have been isolated from this cultural gift because of our own self-imposed wall. I also watched on TV these concerts, with all their sound and color, during my long exile in Australia.

The Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert 2013 was conducted for the second time by the Australian Franz Welser-Möst, general music director of the Vienna State Opera and musical director of the Cleveland Orchestra, also a highly rated international orchestra. He also conducted the 2011 New Year’s Day concert.

According to its program, the concert featured 11 compositions which had never before been played in a New Year’s Concert, including pieces by Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, both of whose  bicentennials are being commemorated this year. The concert was broadcast to 81 countries around the world, double the number of countries which received the broadcast years ago.

The first New Year’s Concert, in 1939, was conducted by Clemens Krauss. The concerts have been held at the Large Hall of Musikverein, close to the Imperial Hotel. Each year, different world-famed conductors directed the Philharmonic. From Krauss, this succession of conductors followed: Josef Krips, Willi Boskovsky, Lorin Maazel, Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, Riccardo Muti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Seiji Ozawa, Mariss Jansons, Georges Prêtre, and Daniel Barenboim. Although the repertoire is mainly works of the Strauss dynasty, it is immensely pleasurable to listen to the nuances and accents of various interpretations.

The program for the 2013 concert features: Josef Strauss, the Soubrette Polka; Johann Strauss Jr., Kiss Waltz; Josef Strauss, Theater Quadrille; Johann Strauss Jr., From the Mountains Waltz; Franz von Suppe, Overture to the Operetta “Light Cavalry”; Richard Wagner, Prelude to Act III of the opera “Lohengrin.”

Happy new year.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Other Stories:

No related posts found!

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=44111

Tags: amando doronila , classical music , column , new year’s day , Vienna philharmonic orchestra

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace