Led by guest conductor Zubin Mehta, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 12th open-air summer concert, this time with a distinctly Scandinavian flavor, in the magnificent gardens of Austria’s Imperial Schönbrunn Palace. The varied program includes favorites by Grieg, Sibelius and Lumbye.
Mehta first conducted the concert in 2005, and earlier this year he was again leading the orchestra on From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2015 also seen on Great Performances.
The concert soloist on this occasion is the internationally acclaimed Austrian piano virtuoso Rudolf Buckbinder.
This free outdoor concert, recorded in May, allows the distinguished orchestra to make classical music accessible to establish a following beyond its usual core audience. The annual event is produced by the ORF, and transmitted live or delayed in more than 80 countries worldwide.
In past years, the concert has been conducted by Bobby McFerrin (2004), Zubin Mehta (2005), Plácido Domingo (2006), Valery Gergiev (2007 & 2011), Georges Prêtre (2008), Daniel Barenboim (in 2009 when Great Performances first began airing the concerts on PBS), Franz Welser-Möst (2010), Gustavo Dudamel (2012), Lorin Maazel (2013) and Christoph Eschenbach (2014).
The Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder plays Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, which was first performed in Copenhagen in 1868. That famous work is followed by the piano piece Soirée de Vienne (inspired by the waltzes of Johann Strauss) by the pianist and composer Alfred Grünfeld, who was born in Vienna in 1852.
A piece by Christian Sinding, one of Grieg’s contemporaries, follows. His songs and symphonies have been largely forgotten, but his 1896 Rustle of Spring endures.
Also from Grieg is one of the suites taken from the incidental music he composed for Ibsen’s classic play Peer Gynt.
The Swedish-Finnish composer Jean Sibelius helped strengthen Finland’s independence movement through his music. His symphonic poem “Finlandia,” which dates back to 1900, was used from the beginning as the “secret Finnish anthem” and was so popular that it was even banned by the Russians.
The concert ends as it does every year with a performance of the great Viennese waltz Wiener Blut by Johann Strauss II. But the penultimate piece is the Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop (Copenhagener Eisenbahn Dampf Galopp) by Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye who was so in awe of Johann Strauss Sr. that he began to compose in his style, earning him the title “The Strauss of the North.”
Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare op. 109
Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 16 (Buchbinder soloist)
Soirée de Vienne (Buchbinder)
Rustle of Spring, op. 32, Nr. 3
Peer-Gynt-Suite Nr. 1, op. 46
Finlandia, Tondichtung op. 26/7
Hans Christian Lumbye
Copenhagener Eisenbahn Dampf Galopp
Johann Strauss II
Wiener Blut, “Viennese Spirit” Waltz
Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40 year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series has been the home to the greatest artists in the areas of drama, dance, musical theater, classical and popular music, providing many with their very first television exposure.
Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2015 is a production of ORF in collaboration with Wiener Philharmoniker in association with THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. It is directed for television by Henning Kasten. Executive producer: Karin Veitl.
For Great Performances, John Walker and Richard R. Schilling are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Starr Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, and PBS. Exclusive corporate support for the concert is provided by Rolex.