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 90 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.
Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic
On the second floor of the House of Music is the Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic – in the former apartment of the orchestra's founder, Otto Nicolai.
The New Year's Concert and the Summer Night Concert are held in the "Concert Hall", while concert trips, awards, the Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic, conductors' batons, memorabilia and original exhibits are presented in the historic Hall of Mirrors. Musicians talks about everyday life in the orchestra and special events. Visitors compose their very own Viennese waltz in the interactive waltz dice game.
Treasures are displayed in the "Nicolai Room": including the founding decree of the Vienna Philharmonic, the program of the first philharmonic concert (28 March 1842) and the first photo of the orchestra (1864).