By Joanna Karausz
Since 1939, the Neujahrskonzert has been a yearly staple in Austria. The classical concert, given by the Vienna Philharmonic on New Year’s Day (besides the first year when it was given on New Year’s Eve), features the music of mainly classic Austrian composers and always includes pieces from the Strauss family: Johann Strauss I, Johann Strauss II, Josef Strauss, and Eduard Strauss. The repertoire colorfully welcomes the New Year with its inclusion of polkas, mazurkas, waltzes, and marches.
The concert tradition began during the Nazi occupation of Austria (known as the Anschluss), a bleak time in Austria’s history, and served as a reminder of the flourishing artistic expression of years gone by and the hope and optimism a new year brings. The concert still provides the energy, excitement, and hope for a fresh new year as it reaches a worldwide audience of 1.3 billion people through its television broadcast to 80 countries. Each year, the event is highly anticipated and the coveted tickets are sold out to the concert given in Vienna.
In order to give audiences in America a live taste of the Austrian original, the Salute to Vienna – New Years’ Concert brings together the classical music featured in the Neujahrskonzert with American and European singers, Viennese ballerinas, and international champion ballroom dancers. The concert features Austria soprano Monika Rebholz and American tenor Brian Cheney, reflecting the camaraderie and goodwill the Neujahrskonzert inspires each year with its varied talent. Conceived by Attila and Marion Glatz, Salute to Vienna captures the spirit of the New Year’s Day concert they grew up listening to, and later watching, in Austria. The stunning costumes and beautiful staging has made Salute to Vienna a visual treat for the past 19 years. The talented group of musicians, dancers, and singers travels the U.S. and Canada and makes a stop at 22 cities.