For decades, the Vienna Philharmonic has given its New Year's Concert in the Grand Hall of the Musikverein. Works by the Strauss dynasty and their contemporaries ensure a successful start to the year. Those who would like to be there 'live' need to strike lucky in the annual ticket draw through the Philharmonic's website. The audience of millions glued to TV sets in 80 countries takes part for free.
The second annual mega-appearance of the Vienna Philharmonic is of a very different nature: the Summer Night Concert in Schönbrunn, an open-air event for 100,000 visitors, with free admission and set against the fabulous backdrop of Schönbrunn Palace.
The Vienna Philharmonic then and now
The Vienna Philharmonic was founded in 1841 by Otto Nicolai. Many of its instruments are specially built, including the clarinet, the bassoon or the particularly difficult-to-play Vienna horn. The Viennese Strings join in to create an unmistakable sound experience, which always impresses:
Richard Wagner described the orchestra as being one of the most outstanding in the world, Johannes Brahms counted himself as a "friend and admirer" of the orchestra, Gustav Mahler claimed to be joined with it "through the bonds of musical art" and Richard Strauss summarized these sentiments by saying: "All praise of the Philharmonic reveals itself as understatement".
Of note is the relationship between the Philharmonic and the State Opera orchestra: a musician can only apply to become a member of the Vienna Philharmonic when he or she has been a member of the State Opera orchestra. By contrast, all members of the Philharmonic play in the State Opera orchestra.