Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns for the fifth time to host the festive annual New Year’s celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim from Vienna’s Musikverein.
From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2014, featuring the melodies of the Strauss family composers and their contemporaries, will air live on Great Performances, Wednesday, January 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) with an encore performance that evening at 8 p.m. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss’ birth.
Following his successful leadership of the beloved event in 2009, Daniel Barenboim has been invited for the second time by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to conduct the traditional New Year’s Concert on the 25th anniversary of their musical collaboration with the General Music Director of the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
The City Palace (Stadtpalais Liechtenstein), which has returned to all its former glory after extensive renovation, provides the setting for both of the Vienna State Ballet’s ballet interludes, choreographed again this year by Ashley Page. One of the highlights of this year’s concert will be Vivienne Westwood’s costume designs for the dancers. The Vienna State Ballet is directed by Manuel Legris and provides the ensembles at both the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Volksoper.
The venerable concert is the largest worldwide event in classical music reaching millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries. The Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s program has showcased Viennese musical culture at the highest level, and since the first television broadcast in 1959, sent the world a New Year’s greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. (The telecast marks the 30th broadcast of the event on PBS.)
To see Julie Andrews celebrating New Years in Vienna continues to be a cherished tradition for viewers and the beloved singer, actress, and author herself. “As often as I’ve come to this simply gorgeous city, its beauty and charms enchant me as they did the very first time. Each year, I find myself quite swept away by Vienna’s extraordinary beauty, and the luscious melodies of the Strauss family and their contemporaries.”
As is customary with these broadcasts, Ms. Andrews will travel from her base in the Musikverein hall itself to visit multiple picturesque Vienna landmarks: the Sigmund Freud Museum, the Porcelain Museum in the Augarten, the 900-year-old Klosterneuburg Abbey, and the Liechtenstein City Palace. Andrews was recently featured in the “Great Performances’ 40th Anniversary Celebration” (2013).
About Conductor Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim last conducted the New Year’s Concert in 2009. The Argentinian, honorary Palestinian citizen and Berlin resident turned 70 last year and celebrated his 60th stage anniversary. Alongside numerous tour performances as pianist and conductor with prestigious orchestras, Barenboim holds other full time high-ranking positions such as being the General Music Director of the State Opera Unter den Linden in Berlin, Musical Director of Milan’s La Scala and the vanguard of his West-Eastern-Divan Orchestra.
Born November 15, 1942, the grandchild of Russian immigrants, Barenboim has had many identities during his career. “I am neither a Jew nor an Argentinian, or a musician living in Germany. A modern human being defines himself, above all, through the possibility to have several identities,” he once said in an interview. “When I conduct a Bruckner Symphony, I consciously or unconsciously become a central European. And when I play a tango on the piano, I’m an Argentinian. In any case, today Barenboim holds Argentinian, Israeli, Spanish and the symbolic Palestinian nationality.”
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Rosalind P. Walter, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt, and public television viewers, and PBS. Exclusive corporate support for the concert is provided by Rolex.
From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2014 is produced by Heidelinde Rudy, and directed by Michael Beyer, with John Walker as producer/writer. For Great Performances, John Walker and Richard R. Schilling are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.