Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns for the sixth time to host the festive annual New Year’s celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Zubin Mehta, from Vienna’s Musikverein.
From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2015, featuring the infectious melodies of the Strauss Family and their contemporaries, airs on Great Performances, Thursday, January 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) with an encore performance that evening at 8 p.m.
This is the 77-year-old maestro’s fifth appearance on the podium for the New Year’s Concert. Following Willi Boskovsky, Clemens Krauss and Lorin Maazel, Mehta joins the list of these great maestros who have conducted the concert most often. The Vienna State Ballet heads back to school and dances to both the “Students Polka” and the “Wine, Women and Song Waltz” in the palatial main building of Vienna’s 650-year-old University on the city’s grand Ringstrasse.
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 31st broadcast of the event on PBS.)
Julie Andrews’ role as host of these New Year’s broadcasts continues to be a cherished tradition for viewers and the beloved singer, actress, and author herself: “I adore the privilege of returning to this magical city each year with its elegance, charm and magnificent gift of music. It is with great delight and joy that I, once again, have the pleasure of participating in this year’s telecast.”
She has been a frequent and luminous presence on Great Performances, starting with “An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner” (1989); “Julie Andrews in Concert” (1990); “Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II” (1995); “Back on Broadway” which spotlighted her return to the Great White Way in “Victor/Victoria” (1995); “Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh” (1998); “My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies” (1999); its follow-up “My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs” (2001); and the restoration of the classic 1957 “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” (2004). She also hosted the Emmy Award-winning series Broadway: The American Musical in 2004. Andrews was recently featured in the “Great Performances’ 40th Anniversary Celebration” (2013).
As is customary with these broadcasts, Ms. Andrews will travel from her home base in the Musikverein hall itself to visit multiple picturesque Vienna landmarks. She’ll travel up the Danube to Durnstein in Austria’s beautiful Wachau Valley; take a streetcar tour of the historic buildings and palaces along the Ringstrasse; and visit the baroque Great Hall of the Old University where Beethoven premiered his 7th Symphony.
Mehta, who was born in Bombay in 1936, studied in Vienna from 1954 until 1957 where he learned his trade under the tutelage of the “maker of conductors” Hans Swarowsky. Following his debut in the United States in 1960, he was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 26 in 1962, which led him to world fame.
Later, the New York Philharmonic offered Mehta the post of Musical Director, a post he held until 1991 – longer than all his predecessors in the 20th century. From 1998 until 2006, Mehta was General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera.
The conductor, who has also dedicated himself to promoting young talent in India, is Music Director for Life at the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Honorary Member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Honorary Member of many other orchestras. In addition to numerous other awards, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
The Vienna State Ballet is choreographed by Davide Bombana. It provides the ensembles at both the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Volksoper.
At Full Steam, Quick Polka
Viennese Life, French Polka
On the Elbe, Waltz
Hans Christian Lumbye
Johann Strauss Sr.
Wine, Women and Song, Waltz
With Style, Quick Polka
Explosions Polka, Quick Polka
On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Waltz
Johann Strauss, Sr.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Agnes Varis Trust, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and public television viewers, and PBS. Exclusive corporate support for the concert is provided by Rolex.
From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2015 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.