Happy New Year: Austia – Switzerland: 1-0

Georges Prêtre
Georges Prêtre

For us 2008 started traditionally with viewing the Vienna New Year’s Concert.

This time the French conductor Georges Prêtre was invited by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to conduct this concert.

The vital 83 year old conductor delivered an excellent job and gained a standing ovation from the the very critical Viennese public that seldom stands up when applauding.

History of the Vienna New Year’s Concert

The following excerpt is taken from the site Hilton Destination Guides:

The history of the event dates back only to 1939, when the first concert was conducted by Clemens Krauss, preceded by a public dress rehearsal the day before. It has now become traditional to have a public dress rehearsal on 30 December, a New Year’s Eve concert and the New Year’s Day morning concert, which is televised around the world.

Krauss and Josef Krips shared conducting honors for the first 15 years, then Willi Boskovsky conducted every year until 1979, leaving a fantastic recorded legacy of this joyous occasion. Lorin Maazel, another Maestro equally at home with a violin in hand, took over until 1986. In 1987, the great Herbert von Karajan took to the podium on New Year’s Day for the only time (an experience which he reported was completely rejuvenating for his music-making).

Since then the baton has changed hands annually between a small number of top maestros: Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti. In 2001 Nikolaus Harnoncourt became the first Viennese conductor since 1980 and he returned again in 2003, while in 2002 it was the turn of Seiji Ozawa, on the eve of him taking up the music directorship of the Vienna State Opera. After Muti (2004) and Maazel (2005), in 2006 another newcomer was introduced to the tradition – Latvian-born Mariss Jansons, one of the most popular and sought after conductors in the world today. After Zubin Mehta’s return for 2007, French conductor Georges Prêtre makes his New Year debut in 2008.

This is a good example of what a Hotel website can offer as destination information.

Why 1-0 versus Switserland?
During the concert’s pause the Austrian Television Broadcasting organization ORF showed an interesting introductory documentary to the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship (European Soccer Championship for our American readers) starting with a kickoff at the Swiss – Austrian border and followed by “the ball” at various touristic and interesting locations throughout Austria. The concert itself is already an interesting marketing tool to boast tourism to Austria. With this documentary, that off course is criticized by the “true music lovers” and probably also by the co-organizers of the championships the Swiss, the whole is an excellent example of destination marketing.

Georges Pretre with EC Ball
Photo thanks to the Opera Chic Blog

After the pause Prêtre drew extra attention to the championship by coming on stage with a football and a referee’s flute and issuing a yellow card to the concert master who granted Prêtre a red card, while the whole orchestra wore football shawls.

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