Happy New Year: Austria – 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.

Shortcut: A City Blog about European cities

Shortcut logo

Today I discovered the nicely written Shortcut, A European City Blog with a nice lay out. It writes about 17 European cities.

It used to write about upcoming events, but nowadays in true web 2.0 style it links through to Yahoo’s Upcoming.

A pity Shortcut don’t feature The Hague.

Go enjoy yourself!

Added July 1, 2007
I changed the URL as they have moved to another provider.

Suite with an extraordinary high view: 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat

3100 kulmhotel gornergrat

Yes, I am on the road and slowing down the posting a bit.
Today, I had an excellent lunch in what I believed was an observatory, but turned out to be an extraordinary high hide away above Zermatt in the Swiss Alps at 3100 m above sealevel which is almost two miles high, the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat. This small hotel cum observatory exists already over 100 year and was tastefully renovated during 2005 and the first part of 2006. I got a tour of its rooms and one of its suites with amazing view in the tower of the observatory. I will be adding to this post later.

Bath with a view (2)

Whey Bath

After the previous post I couldn’t help but Google with the search term “Bath with a view” and find this Scuol Tarasp Warm Whey Bath.

Like Cleopatra’s usual practice:

An experiences you will one day tell your grandchildren about: Sitting in a wooden tub, high up in the mountains, while the soothing warmth of whey water with a temperature of 38° Celsius runs over your body? Relaxed and happy you will not only enjoy this bath under the sky but also the surrounding panoramic views. Isn’t this prospect truly heart warming? Don’t you agree?

The whole experience is salubrious, too: The whey water, rich in lactic acid, is a time-tested natural remedy. It softens the skin, regenerates and protects it. It also relieves allergies and certain skin conditions.

One or two persons can spend 30 minutes or longer in this unusual bath. But please note: Whey is a valuable by-product of cheese production. Because every day cheese is freshly produced on this Alp, only 1 whey bath per day can be offered. Early reservations are absolutely necessary.
The price per bath is CHF 40.–.
Plan on a 1 1/2 hour hike from Tarasp to the Alp.